There meningitis in children it is a condition that always arouses great attention and concern. But what are its characteristics? And most importantly, what are the symptoms of meningitis in children?
What is meningitis?
Let's start by remembering that the meningitis it is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
The disease can be contracted by any person, of any age. However, since it can spread easily among those living indoors, it is teenagers and students who are at the highest risk of infection.
If addressed quickly, meningitis can always be treated successfully. So, it's important to get routine vaccinations, know the signs of meningitis, and get medical attention right away if you think your baby has contracted the disease.
What causes meningitis?
Most cases are caused by bacteria or virus, but some may be due to certain medications or others illnesses.
In particular, many of the bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis are quite common and cause other ordinary diseases.
There bacterial meningitis it is rare, but is usually serious and can be fatal if not treated immediately. In some cases of bacterial meningitis, the bacteria spread to meningitis due to a severe head injury or a severe local infection, such as ear infection (otitis media) or sinus infection (sinusitis).
There are many types of bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis. In newborns, the most common causes are group B streptococcus, E. coli and, less commonly, Listeria monocytogenes. In older children, Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus).
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There viral meningitis (also called aseptic meningitis) is more common than bacterial meningitis and usually less severe.
Again, there are many viruses that cause meningitis, such as those that cause colds, diarrhea and flu.
What are the symptoms of meningitis in children
Let us now turn to the central theme of our focus, namely the identification of symptoms of meningitis in children.
THE symptoms of meningitis vary according to the age of the person and the cause of the infection. The first symptoms can come on quickly or start several days after someone has had a cold, diarrhea, vomiting, or other signs of infection.
The most common symptoms therefore include:
- lack of energy,
- sensitivity to light,
- stiff neck,
Meningitis in infants
Newborns with meningitis can have different symptoms. Infants may be irritated, not very hungry, very sleepy, or have difficulty waking up. It can also be difficult to comfort them, even when they are cradled in the arms of their mother or father. They may also have a fever or a swollen "fontanel" (the soft spot on the head).
Other symptoms of meningitis in children can include:
- jaundice (a yellowish tint to the skin),
- stiffness of the body and neck,
- a lower than normal temperature,
How meningitis is diagnosed
There bacterial meningitis it can be very serious. So, if you notice your symptoms, or if you think your baby may have meningitis, it's important to contact your doctor right away.
If meningitis is suspected, the doctor will order some tests to be performed immediately, probably with a lumbar puncture (spine) to collect a sample of spinal fluid. This test will show any signs of inflammation and if the infection is due to viruses or bacteria.
How meningitis is treated
Most cases of viral meningitis end within 7 to 10 days. Some people may need to be treated in the hospital, although children are usually able to heal at home if they are not too severe in their condition. Treatment to relieve symptoms includes rest, fluid administration, and some over-the-counter pain medications.
If bacterial meningitis is diagnosed, or suspected, doctors will start giving antibiotics as soon as possible.
What are the complications
The complications of bacterial meningitis may require more thorough treatment. In particular, those with low blood pressure may require intravenous fluids and medications to increase blood pressure. Some babies may need extra oxygen or mechanical ventilation if they have difficulty breathing.
Complications of bacterial meningitis can be serious and include neurological problems, such as hearing loss, visual disturbances, seizures and learning difficulties. The heart, kidneys and adrenal glands may also be affected, depending on the cause of the infection. Although some children develop long-lasting neurological problems, most of those who get a quick diagnosis and treatment make a full recovery.
When to contact the doctor?
As we have repeatedly recalled in the last few lines, getting prompt medical attention is essential if you think your child has meningitis or if you notice symptoms such as vomiting, headache, tiredness or confusion, stiff neck, rash and fever . A child who has a fever, is irritable, and is not eating well should be seen by a doctor right away.
Furthermore, as can be guessed, if your child has attended an environment where there was someone who had meningitis, it is good to contact your doctor to evaluate preventive medicine.
We therefore recommend all those who are interested in this phenomenon to share with their doctor the state of health of their child and all the actions that are appropriate or necessary to do in order to allow their child to find the right well-being.