Bacterial meningitis is the most common form of meningitis.  It can be life-threatening. 

Bacterial meningitis symptoms and treatments need to be done because the infection of meningitis can cause the tissues around the brain to swell. Without treatment, bacterial meningitis can cause paralysis, stroke, seizures, sepsis, and even death.


What is bacterial meningitis?

Acute bacterial meningitis is the most common form of meningitis. Approximately 80% of all cases are acute bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening. The infection can cause the tissues around the brain to swell. This, in turn, interferes with blood flow and can result in paralysis or even stroke.

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Who gets bacterial meningitis?

  • Children between the ages of 1 month and 2 years are the most susceptible to bacterial meningitis.
  • Adults with certain risk factors are also susceptible. You are at higher risk if you abuse alcohol, have a chronic nose and ear infections, sustain a head injury or get pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • You are also at higher risk if you have a weakened immune system, have had your spleen removed, are on corticosteroids because of kidney failure or have a sickle cell disease.

Additionally, if you have had a brain or spinal surgery or have had a widespread blood infection you are also a higher risk for bacterial meningitis.  Outbreaks of bacterial meningitis also occur in living situations where you are in close contact with others, such as college dormitories or military barracks.

Causes of Bacterial Meningitis

Meningitis commonly occurs due to bacteria in the environment. That bacteria also can be found in your nose and respiratory system without causing any harm. The causes of the meningitis are hard to define. And at other times it occurs after a head injury or after you had an infection.

Meningitis can also occur if the person has a weak immune system. Sometimes meningitis occurs for no known reason. Other times it occurs after a head injury or after you have had an infection and your immune system is weakened.

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Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms and Treatments

Among the symptoms of bacterial meningitis are a headache, fever and an inability to lower your chin to your chest due to stiffness in the neck. Symptoms for children and adults, they may be experience confusion, irritability, and increasing drowsiness.

Other than that, seizures and stroke also may occur. For young children, the fever may cause vomiting and they may refuse to eat. In older children and adults, you may see confusion, irritability, increasing drowsiness. Seizures and stroke may occur.  Young children may become very irritable and cry. There may be seizures. 


Also, because the fluid around the skull may become blocked their heads may swell. The early symptoms are fast, within 24 hours. A person who is affected by meningitis will be treated well. If allowed to progress, you can die from bacterial meningitis.

Symptoms can begin quickly, sometimes in just a couple hours, or they can progress over a day or two. Seek immediate medical attention if you show symptoms of bacterial meningitis. Your doctor will treat the condition as soon as possible, most likely with antibiotics.

How is bacterial meningitis diagnosed?

It is important that you seek immediate medical assistance if you suspect meningitis. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam. Your doctor will look for a purple or red rash on the skin. Your doctor will check your neck for stiffness and will exam hip and knee flexion.

Your doctor will have to decide if the cause is bacterial, viral or fungal and will have to analyse your spinal fluid, so a spinal tap will be ordered.  Your blood and urine may also be analysed as well as the mucous from your nose and throat.

How is bacterial meningitis treated?

Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics. A general intravenous antibiotic with a corticosteroid to bring down the inflammation may be prescribed even before all the test results are in.

When the specific bacteria are identified, your doctor may decide to change antibiotics.

 In addition to antibiotics, it will be important to replenish fluids lost from loss of appetite, sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea.


How Is Meningitis Prevented?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially if you’re at increased risk, is important. This includes things like:

  • getting adequate amounts of rest
  • not smoking
  • avoiding contact with sick people

If you’ve been in close contact with one or more people who have a bacterial meningococcal infection, your doctor can give you preventive antibiotics. This will decrease your chances of developing the disease.

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Levine Lee

Life Planner at Red Cover Life Planning
Levine Lee is an expert AIA insurance agent and life planner. She has over 12 years of working experience with AIA and ING Insurance as an insurance agent and life planner.This makes her efficient and effective to manage clients for AIA Group Insurance Plans, AIA Life Insurance and AIA Takaful policies.Based in the Klang Valley in Malaysia, Levine serves her customers all over Malaysia, as they move between cities because of job changes.

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