Frequently Asked Questions About Meningitis

Q and A

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  • Although fungal meningitis isn’t contagious, inhaling fungi spores in the air, undergoing medical techniques where the fungi is directly inserted into the central nervous system or entering of fungi in an infected site near the central nervous system can trigger this illness
  • The results of the MRF’s Impact of Meningitis Research Survey found that meningitis patients experienced fatigue (6 percent of cases), hearing loss (10 percent) and behavioral, emotional and psychological problems (13 percent)

Q: How do you contract meningitis? Is meningitis airborne?

A: Some types of meningitis are airborne. Patients acquire bacterial meningitis by kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, coughing or sneezing. Bacteria is typically found in the saliva and mucus of an infected person.1

Although fungal meningitis isn’t contagious, inhaling fungi spores in the air, undergoing medical techniques where the fungi is directly inserted into the central nervous system or entering of fungi into an infected site near the central nervous system can trigger this illness.2

Q: How common is meningitis?

A: Statistics show that in the U.S., 10 out of 100,000 people are diagnosed with viral meningitis every year, while 3 in 100,000 people have bacterial meningitis. In the U.K., the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) says that 3,200 instances of meningitis and meningococcal septicemia happen yearly.3

However, these numbers greatly rise in the “meningitis belt” in sub-Saharan Africa, where meningitis epidemics occur frequently during the dry season in countries such as Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. The numbers from the 2014 epidemic season revealed that there were 14,317 suspected meningitis cases and 1,304 deaths.4,5

Q: What are the long-term effects of meningitis? Is meningitis fatal?

A: Unfortunately, having meningitis could lead to long-term consequences. The results of the MRF’s Impact of Meningitis Research Survey found that meningitis patients experienced fatigue (6 percent of cases), hearing loss (10 percent) and behavioral, emotional and psychological problems (13 percent).6

Meningitis patients could also suffer from brain inflammation, light sensitivity, deafness, lack of appetite, joint and body pain, blotchy skin and falling blood pressure,7 along with other devastating complications. Even worse, meningitis could be fatal, especially bacterial meningitis cases.8

Q: What are the first signs of meningitis among adults? Is it possible to have meningitis even without a fever?

A: Rashes on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, stomach, inside the eyelids and roof of the mouth typically appear in meningitis patients. However, other symptoms of the disease include high fever, headaches, feeling and being sick, irritability and lack of energy, pale and mottled skin, aching muscles and joints and having fits and seizures.9

Patients who have meningitis can experience a combination of any of these meningitis symptoms, so it’s possible that some may not have fever, but show other indicators instead.

Q: Can meningitis cause seizures?

A: Seizures are a known symptom of this disease and can occur in both adults and children.10,11 Seizures can also be a complication of meningitis, as they can manifest after a diagnosis has been made.12,13

Q: What tests can be done to check for meningitis?

A: Four tests can be done to diagnose meningitis, namely physical examinations, blood cultures, lumbar puncture or spinal tap, computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.14,15

Q: Are there guidelines for effective meningitis treatment?

A: To effectively treat meningitis, skip conventional treatments like over-the-counter medications and antibiotics, which may lead to side effects. Patients with meningitis could benefit from natural remedies and lifestyle practices that could alleviate the disease and potentially prevent other illnesses. However, in some cases such as bacterial or parasitic meningitis, hospitalization may be necessary.

Q: What is the duration of meningitis treatment?

A: Treatment depends on the type of meningitis that the patient was diagnosed with. Usually, viral meningitis isn’t treated since the illness goes away on its own, with symptoms disappearing within two weeks.16

Meanwhile, treatment for bacterial meningitis could take longer. Patients with this disease require immediate medical attention17 and hospitalization to prevent brain damage and death.18 As for people with fungal meningitis, treatment duration depends on the strength of the patient’s immune system and the type of fungus that caused the infection.19

MORE ABOUT MENINGITIS

Meningitis: Introduction

What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis in Children

Is Meningitis Contagious?

Meningitis Duration

Meningitis Causes

Meningitis Types

Meningitis Symptoms

Meningitis Treatment

Meningitis Prevention

Meningitis Diet

Meningitis FAQ

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