Every April 24th, the Confederation of Meningitis Organizations celebrates World Meningitis Day. You might think that this disease only affects infants or university students, however, this is not true. The disease affects people of all ages, gender, and geographical locations. In order to prevent any permanent damage, it’s important to know how the disease works and what its symptoms are.
This disease can be caused by a plethora of reasons. Most commonly, it’s due to a virus infection, bacterial infection, or fungal infection that causes the protective membrane covering the brain or spinal cord to become inflamed. Due to the fact that this infection can affect the brain and spinal cord, it can cause permanent damage and even death. Unfortunately, without the help of a trained medical doctor, it’s hard to diagnose on its own.
Signs and Symptoms
Without going through the proper medical examinations to positively identify that you have meningitis, the disease may seem like you just have the common cold or flu. The most common symptom is a severe headache. In most adults, it’s what they experience first. Then the disease can progress to extreme stiffness in the neck. This is due to the inflammation around the brain and spinal column. A third common symptom is a sudden fever. If your body temperature rises and you have the other two symptoms, you may have meningitis. However, if you haven’t experienced all three symptoms, it’s unlikely that you or a loved one has meningitis.
As of right now, there are two types of vaccines you can receive to protect you from the bacterial forms of meningitis. It’s your number one tool to prevent the infection. Make sure you and your elderly loved ones are up to date on their vaccines for meningitis. You can always cut back on the items you share with other people. The disease can be transmitted through nose and throat secretions such as saliva or mucus, so it’s best not to share water bottles, glasses, cigarettes, or straws if you notice a loved one is getting sick.
Meningitis is a serious illness, however, it’s very preventable with modern medicine and simple hygiene techniques. As we mentioned, make sure your elderly loved ones (and you) are up to date with their shots. It’s merely a myth that this disease only affects infants and college students. Anyone can get it, but everyone can prevent it.