What is meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges that are protective membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. This inflammation is due to a bacterial or viral infection of the fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain. However, other types of infections, injuries, certain drugs, and cancer can also cause meningitis. It is critical to know the specific underlying etiology of meningitis as the treatment options vary depending on the cause. It can affect people of any age but tend to be more common in babies, teenagers, and young adults.
Inflammation of the meninges can be very dangerous if not diagnosed and treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening complications such as septicemia (blood poisoning) and may also result in lasting damage to the nerves of the brain and the spinal cord. The causative organisms spread through the transfer of the throat and respiratory secretions (for example, sharing of utensils, coughing, kissing), as well as diarrhea. Some types of bacterial and viral meningitis are contagious, therefore, they can reach other people who have prolonged or close contact with an affected person.