MeningitisSymptoms and Diagnosis

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meningitis is a potentially life-threatening infection of the meninges

the tough layer of tissue that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. If not treated, meningitis can lead to brain swelling and cause permanent disability, coma and even death. In todays 60 Second Housecall, Dr. Edward Hill discusses the symptoms and diagnosis of meningitis.

The symptoms of meningitis vary by age, underlying disease and the type of meningitis. Viral meningitis is common when a viral infection causes the meninges around the brain to be inflamed. The symptoms of viral meningitis are fever, headache and sensitivity of the eyes to light. Viral meningitis in most people resolves quickly and completely.

Bacterial meningitis is typically much more serious than viral. Children with bacterial meningitis may have fever, lethargy or irritability, headache, sensitivity of the eyes to light, and a stiff neck. Skin rashes and seizures can occur with meningitis. Very young babies may have only minimal symptoms such as decreased feeding and lethargy.

Meningitis is diagnosed by a spinal tap, a procedure in which a small needle is inserted into the back and spinal fluid from around the spinal cord is drained. The analysis of this fluid can determine the diagnosis of meningitis and what type it is.

Bacterial meningitis can be a life-threatening disease and needs to be diagnosed and treated quickly.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.