MENINGITIS IN CHILDREN

 

Symptoms: fever, stiff neck, headache, vomiting, exhaustion or collapse, convulsions.

Home care:

Meningitis is a medical emergency. Do not attempt home care. Take the child to the doctor immediately.

Precautions

-    A child, who is very weak, has a stiff neck, and fever should see a doctor immediately.

-    Laboratory examination of spinal fluid is the only way to diagnose meningitis.

-    Meningitis can follow an upper respiratory tract or middle ear infection, or certain types of skull fracture.

-    The unnecessary use of antibiotics for an upper respiratory tract infection may mask the onset of meningitis.

-    Meningitis is often contracted through direct contact with a carrier of the disease who appears quite healthy.

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord. Most often, meningitis is caused by a viral infection. Bacterial meningitis is usually caused by one of three types of bacteria: meningococcus, pneumococcus, or Haemophilus influenzae. Meningitis is seldom spread by a person who has the disease. It’s usually contracted by direct contact with a healthy person who is a carrier of the disease, or by inhaling airborne droplets of moisture from that person’s respiratory system. (A carrier is a person who does not get sick with the disease but can pass it on to others.)

Meningitis may be a complication of a skull fracture if the fracture has extended into the nose, middle ear, or nasal sinus. Meningitis can also follow an upper respiratory tract infection or middle ear infection.

Signs and symptoms

The characteristic symptoms of meningitis are moderate to high fever, headache, vomiting, exhaustion or collapse, convulsions, and a stiff neck – the child cannot touch his or her chin to the chest with the mouth closed. Purplish red spots (petechiae) scattered over the body together with fever may indicate one form of meningococcus infection. The diagnosis of meningitis can only be made with certainty by testing spinal fluid obtained by a spinal tap.

Home care

Meningitis is a medical emergency in which hours, if not minutes, count. Do not attempt any home treatment. See a doctor at once.

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