How you can spot the dangerous warning signs of bacterial meningitis in Kingston, New York

Meningitis is the dangerous inflammation of the outer lining of the brain, known as the meninges. If untreated, meningitis can lead to brain damage and even death. The key to stopping meningitis is early detection.  When meningitis is treated in its early stage, it can be cured without any permanent injury or disability. 

What are the two different kinds of meningitis?

There are two kinds of meningitis: bacterial meningitis and viral meningtis.  Viral meningitis has no treatment and is usually harmless. The large majority of persons diagnosed with viral meningitis recover completely in less than one week.

Bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, is deadly serious. Bacterial meningitis is caused by a bacteria and unless it is treated with intravenous antibiotics, the infection can cause swelling of the brain and eventually lead to brain damage and death.

How you can prevent bacterial meningitis

The key to stopping bacterial meningitis is early detection and treatment.  Bacterial meninitis is, in essence, an infection in the brain. 

As with most infections, the earliest symptoms of bacterial meningitis are elevated temperature (usually above 101 degrees), diaphoresis (sweating), nausea and vomiting and you may also have elevated white blood cell counts.  White blood cells fight infection and the normal range of white blood cells is between 3,500 and 9,500.  If you have an elevated white blood cell count, i.e., above 10,000, this is often a sign that you have an infection.

When bacterial meningitis is untreated for more than 24 hours, you can begin experiencing cognitive impairments, such as an inability to recognize family members and friends.  If untreated for 48 hours, you will become lethargic and eventually fall into a coma.  Death can ensue if your bacterial meningitis is untreated for more than 48 hours.  Early detection and treatment of meningitis is crucial!

How bacteral meningitis is stopped

As with any other kind of infection, the first step in treatment is the identification of the specific bacteria causing the meningitis.  A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is a good way to identify the bacteria causing the meningitis.  A lumbar puncture is a critically important test when bacterial meningitis is suspected!

A lumbar puncture is a procedure where cerebrospinal fluid is withdrawn by a needle from your lower back in order to assess the CSF for signs of contamination.  Cerebrospinal fluid should be clear, sterile and uncontaminated.  If you have blood or bacteria in your cerebrospinal fluid, this is a big red flag!

Once you have identified the kind of bacteria with a lumbar puncture, you must begin aggressive intravenous antibiotic treatment to kill the bacteria.  The IV antibiotic treatment is designed to kill the specific type of bacteria that you have and is given over the course of 7-10 days in a hospital.  The antibiotics should kill the bacteria and your symptoms, i.e., fever, lethargy and vomiting, will gradually go away.

The key to a good outcome in the fight against meningitis

The goal is to begin treating bacterial meningitis before it causes neurological deficits, such as memory and cognitive problems.  Once cognitive and memory problems set in, brain damage is often irreversible and the dye is cast.  Even with aggressive antibiotic treatment, there is often nothing that can be one to fix the brain damage.  Under these circumstances, the patient is lucky to live.

If you begin treating bacterial meningitis before neurological symptoms develop, you have an excellent chance of a complete recovery without any neurological deficits.  The infection is wiped out with intravenous antibiotics and you have a complete recovery without any long-term physician or mental problems. This is why early detection of bacterial meningitis is critical.

If you have questions, here's what you can do

If you have any questions or want more information, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-882, or you can request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website, www.protectingpatientrights.com.  If you know someone you think might be interested in this article, I encourage you to share it with them.