The term meningitis is derived from the Modern Latin word “meninga” and Greek word “Menix,” both meaning “membrane.” The word is then combined with the suffix “-it is,” which signifies that it’s “an inflammation of.”1 Meningitis literally translates to “an inflammation of the membrane.”
Having this illness is definitely not good news, especially when you consider the importance of the meninges to your body and the potential impacts that you could face because of this condition.
Why Is the Meninges Important?
Meningitis targets the meninges, a group of three important membranes (the dura meter, arachnoid mater and pia mater) that surround your brain and spinal cord.2 These membranes provide an additional layer of protection underneath your skull and spine.3
Aside from these three membranes, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is also a major player when it comes to optimal brain and spinal cord function. This clear and colorless fluid4 assists in protecting your brain and spinal cord from damage-inducing shocks.
Plus, the CSF removes waste products and serves as a transport system that delivers nutrients to various parts of the central nervous system.5
Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Meningitis
According to the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) Impact of Meningitis Research Survey, not only will meningitis make you sick, but the disease could also expose you or someone you know to various short- and long-term effects.
The MRF’s findings were based on responses from a detailed questionnaire that were sent in by 809 members who had experienced meningitis between 1988 and 2003. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents noted that they experienced short-term effects such as:6
- Behavioral, emotional and psychological problems (27 percent)
- Fatigue (16 percent)
- Headaches (9 percent)
- Hearing loss (7 percent)
- Sleeping problems (5 percent)
Meanwhile, the long-term impacts of meningitis were also noted, with 13 percent of patients experiencing behavioral, emotional and psychological problems. Hearing loss (10 percent of cases) and fatigue (6 percent) were also considered to be consequences of meningitis among patients.7
How Prevalent Is Meningitis?
Although meningitis is a disease that can be treated, there are some instances wherein the disease can be life-threatening. It’s said that around 10 to 12 percent of meningitis cases in industrialized countries are fatal.8
In the U.S., 3 out of 100,000 people are affected with bacterial meningitis, and 10 out of 100,000 people are diagnosed with viral meningitis annually.9 Meanwhile in the U.K., the Meningitis Research Foundation estimates that 3,200 cases of meningitis and meningococcal septicemia occur each year.10
However, these statistics pale in comparison to numbers recorded in the “meningitis belt” in sub-Saharan Africa. Countries in this area, such as Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, typically experience waves of meningitis epidemics during the dry season, from December to June. Meningitis epidemics in these places can last from two to three years.11
In the 2014 epidemic season, Global Health Observatory (GHO) data from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that there were 14,317 suspected meningitis cases and 1,304 deaths in these areas. These numbers were recorded from 19 African countries considered to be under enhanced surveillance, during the epidemic that lasted from January 1 to June 29, 2014.12
Make Use of These Bits of Information to Combat Meningitis
Let’s face it: meningitis is a debilitating disease. Viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites can attack your body and mess up your immune system.13 The symptoms are not forgiving as meningitis can trigger rashes, headaches, muscle and joint pain, fever and drowsiness, to name a few.14
What’s even worse, some treatment methods that are commonly prescribed to meningitis patients are actually health dangers in disguise, and may even cause complications.
This is where these Meningitis pages come in — they are loaded with in-depth, must-know information about the disease. Learn more about what causes the condition, the symptoms you should watch out for, prevention methods you can practice and ideal (natural) treatment protocols.
Learn More About Meningitis: