Preventing Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis attacks the protective membrane that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord, which leads to inflammation and swelling, and sometimes death. Those who survive can have brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and loss of limbs.

Bacterial meningitis is easily spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, especially in close quarters on college campuses, boarding schools or camps.

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork warns that bacterial meningitis can progress quickly, so if you think you have any of the symptoms or if you've been exposed to someone who has bacterial meningitis, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blotchy, reddish-purple rash
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Prevention:

  • Avoid sharing food and eating utensils.
  • Avoid drinking out of the same cup or bottle.
  • Avoid kissing someone who seems ill.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands. Instead, use a tissue, or cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.

Treatment:

Meningitis can be treated with antibiotics, but they are not always effective, and 10 to 15 percent of patients die. Talk with your doctor to find out if vaccinations or booster shots are right for you.

Get answers to some frequently asked questions about meningitis, and for more information, visit gethealthystayhealthy.com.

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