Meningitis: Top 5 Symptoms

Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 03:18 PM

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When the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord get infected or inflammed, the condition is called meningitis. Though this infection occurs mostly in children, teens, and young adults, older adults and people who have long-term health problems can also be at risk.

Viral meningitis is more common than bacterial meningitis and usually does not cause any serious illness. Severe cases of viral meningitis may, however, cause one to suffer from prolonged fever and seizures. Bacterial meningitis, though not very common, can be serious and needs to be treated right away.

Both kinds of meningitis share the same symptoms. A doctor can test you to distinguish between symptoms of viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis.

The most common Meningitis symptoms among teens and young adults are:

1)  A stiff and painful neck: Pain is felt especially when people try to touch their chin to their chest. In the case of infants, determining stiffness in the neck is not possible. So check out if your baby is exhibiting signs of severe, inconsolable irritability or lethargy (limp, lifeless, won't open eyes to focus on you). If any of these signs are there, then it may mean a severe infection, including meningitis.

2) Fever. Whenever there is an infection, the body raises its temperature to fight it, resulting in a fever. With meningitis, a fever is almost always present and can be unusually high — over 103 degrees.

3) Headache. Unlike a common headache, in meningitis, the headache can be extremely painful. This happens because the infected lining of the brain gets severely inflamed.

4) Vomiting. The infection leads to irritation in the brain that triggers persistent vomiting.

5) Photophobia: Meningitis sufferers may feel that the light hurts their eyes. Those with meningitis will be unable or unwilling to look at any bright light source, especially the bright sunlight.

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