How Serious Is Spinal Meningitis?

Imagine putting your child to bed one night and thinking he or she is suffering from a case of the flu only to wake up in the morning to find him or her dead.

That’s the real situation some parents have found themselves their child suffering from spinal meningitis.

What is Spinal Meningitis?

Spinal meningitis is caused primarily by a viral or bacterial infection which causes an inflammation of membranes found around your spinal cord and brain. Normally, this inflammation is caused as the infection spreads throughout the person’s body.

Because the disease affects the nervous system, it can have serious health consequences very quickly. Brain damage and death are two of the most significant and frightening possibilities.

What are the Symptoms of Spinal Meningitis?

As mentioned above, many of the symptoms of spinal meningitis are similar to those for the common flu, including headaches, fever, and vomiting. As the disease progresses, the symptoms can become more pronounced, including seizures, difficulty awakening, neck stiffness, confusion, and sensitivity to light.

If you suspect that someone has spinal meningitis, taking them to a physician as soon as possible is critical. The disease can progress quickly if left untreated.

Who Should Worry about Spinal Meningitis?

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of being infected by spinal meningitis. Age is one of the biggest of these factors. Most incidents affect children under the age of 5. However, college students and other young adults are also experiencing more frequent cases of spinal meningitis.

Because these people tend to live in close quarters, they are more likely to contract and spread the illness. Having a weakened immune system, working with animals, and having a baby recently also increase your odds.

How is Spinal Meningitis Treated?

When the cause is a virus, most physicians will recommend treatments similar to that for the flu, including plenty of bed rest.

However, if bacterium is the culprit (as determined by a spinal tap), the patients will require a period of hospitalization and antibiotics provided via IV (intravenous) so they can begin working in the body as quickly as possible.

Depending on the effects the disease is already having on the patient, physicians may also need to treat symptoms such as brain swelling and convulsions.

Without proper treatment, bacterial meningitis can move through the nervous system in days and can cause death.

Even delayed treatment can increase the risks of paralysis, brain damage, kidney failure, and other serious health problems. Vaccinations are available that can reduce the odds of contracting spinal meningitis.