Meningitis is a preventable disease, and taking the first steps to avoid it is crucial. In fact, you can begin preparing your body against this devastating disease right now.
Even better, you can teach these tips and tricks to younger members of your household and/or community so that they can stop this disease from affecting them. Here are just some of the most efficient meningitis precautions:1
• Wash your hands properly: The simple act of washing your hands before and after eating, after using the toilet, spending time in a crowded public place or petting animals can be effective against meningitis. By doing so, you help prevent the spread of germs and other agents that cause this illness.
When washing hands, always use a gentle and mild soap. Avoid antibacterial brands sold in most stores today because they contain a harmful chemical called triclosan.
Animal studies showed that triclosan led to fetal bone malformations in mice and rats, altered the thyroid hormone-controlled metamorphosis process of the North American bullfrog and lowered circulating concentrations of thyroxine (a thyroid hormone) in male rats.2,3
Aside from these effects on animals, triclosan was found to help stimulate the growth and development of breast cancer cells, impede muscle function in both humans and animals and cause an increase in allergies among children.4,5,6
• Avoid sharing personal items with others: Refrain from sharing eating utensils, drinking glasses and cups, lip balms or toothbrushes with other people. Having close contact with secretions like saliva, nasal mucus or sputum (also known as phlegm7) from an infected person could raise your risk for meningitis.8
• Cover your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze: If you have the urge to cough or sneeze, always cover your mouth or nose, because this could eventually spread meningitis-causing viruses or bacteria.
• Maintain a healthy lifestyle: A healthy immune system could effectively ward off agents that could trigger meningitis.
Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise regularly and consume a diet that contains high amounts of fruits and vegetables, moderate quantities of grass-fed protein and substantial portions of healthy fats.
• If you’re pregnant, be cautious with your food: When you do this, you can reduce your risk of having listeriosis, an infection caused by listeria bacteria. This is a type of bacteria strain that is also known to lead to meningitis.9
When cooking meat, make sure the temperature stands at 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius, or that it is cooked thoroughly (but not charred or burnt).
It’s Best to be Informed on Vaccine Safety
Nowadays, vaccines that aim to “protect” a person from various types of meningitis are quickly rising in popularity, with so many people getting vaccinated when they have the chance, rather than taking the time to become fully informed of any potential risks. There are actually four types of meningitis vaccines here in the U.S., with some being administered to children as young as 2 months of age:10
- Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccine
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PGV13)
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
However, as studies have already proven, vaccines may actually cause harmful side effects. Case in point: A study published in 2008 showed that Prevnar, a vaccine typically used against pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections, was actually responsible for increasing rates of otitis media (ear infection), meningitis and pneumonia — the very diseases it was supposed to protect against.
This happened because of serotypes that were not initially included in the initial Prevnar vaccine becoming stronger when vaccine supressed the others.11,12
What Happens If You’re Diagnosed With Meningitis?
Some patients who are diagnosed with meningitis must be separated from other people to prevent transmission and contamination. Common meningitis isolation techniques utilized by hospitals include:13,14
• Droplet precautions: If meningitis is caused by the bacteria strain Neisseria meningitides,15 droplet precaution is advised during the first 24 hours of antimicrobial therapy, alongside mask and face protection for intubation.
Droplet precautions aim to prevent contact with mucus and secretions from the patient’s nose and sinuses, throat, airways and lungs. As such, wearing of a surgical mask is required among visitors or medical personnel entering the patient’s room.
• Contact precautions: These are recommended for infants and children who are affected with enteroviruses. Contact precautions are needed against germs that can be spread by touching. People are advised to wear gloves and a gown before touching the infected person or other objects inside the room.
• Airborne precautions: This type of precaution is required for very small germs that could float in the air and travel long distances. Infected patients are placed in negative pressure rooms that gently the suck the air out and prevent it from flowing into the hallway.
Airborne precautions intend to help keep staff, visitors and other people from breathing in the germs. Any person who will be entering a negative pressure room must put on a well-fitted respirator mask first.