Meningitis is a serious infection with bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral causes., and it produces inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious form of the infection, and many cases are potentially life-threatening, requiring immediate treatment in the hospital. To diagnose meningitis, doctors perform a physical exam, though blood tests, a spinal tap (lumbar puncture), and imaging studies will also be performed to aid in the diagnosis. Treatment for meningitis depends on its cause. Bacterial meningitis is most frequently diagnosed in young adults in their teens and twenties. It typically requires urgent treatment with intravenous antibiotics and corticosteroids. While viral cases can’t be treated with antibiotics, patients with mild forms may recover with a few weeks of bed rest and adequate hydration, though sometimes doctors may prescribe anticonvulsants. Viral meningitis is most common in patients under the age of five. Vaccines are available to protect against many forms of bacterial meningitis. Several of these vaccines are part of the childhood vaccination schedule for children under two years old in the United States, and preteens and teenagers are typically given at least one dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine when they are between eleven and sixteen years old. Meningitis can cause lifelong complications, including hearing loss, kidney failure, brain damage, seizures, and memory issues.
The symptoms of meningitis can vary considerably, and patients with this infection may not always have the classic symptom associated with it. Key warning signs that could indicate a potential case of meningitis are outlined below.
Excessive sleepiness is an early symptom of meningitis that may occur in both newborns and older patients. The patient may initially be drowsy, and they could fall asleep while performing activities such as driving or eating. As the condition progresses, the patient might sleep for prolonged periods of time, and they may eventually become difficult to wake. In cases of bacterial meningitis, excessive sleepiness may worsen rapidly (within a few hours), and some patients could fall into a coma. Newborns with this symptom may also be irritable or sluggish. If a family member or caregiver notices it is difficult to wake the patient and they are becoming less and less responsive, emergency medical services should be called.
Keep reading to reveal more warning signs of meningitis now.