Meningitis Symptoms: Both viral and bacterial meningitis might initially present with identical symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis tend to be more severe. The signs and symptoms also change with age.
Viral Meningitis Symptoms:
Baby meningitis can be caused by a virus and lead to:
- Decreased Appetite
- Respiratory Symptoms
Symptoms of viral meningitis in adults may include:
- Stiff Neck
- Sensitivity To Bright Light
- Nausea And Vomiting
- Decreased Appetite
- Altered Mental State
Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms:
The onset of symptoms from bacterial meningitis is rapid. A few examples could be:
- Altered Mental Status
- Sensitivity To Light
- Stiff Neck
- Purple Areas Of Skin That Resemble Bruises
If any of these symptoms develop, you should immediately see a doctor. Meningitis, both bacterial and viral, is extremely dangerous. You can’t tell if you have viral or bacterial meningitis based on how you feel alone. Identifying the specific type requires diagnostic testing by your doctor.
Fungal Meningitis Symptoms:
Fungal meningitis has similar symptoms to the other forms of meningitis. Examples of this could be:
- Sensitivity To Light
- Neck Stiffness
- A General Sense Of Being Unwell
- Confusion Or Disorientation
Chronic Meningitis Symptoms:
When meningitis symptoms linger longer than 4 weeks, a diagnosis of chronic meningitis is made. Similar to other types of acute meningitis, the symptoms of chronic meningitis might appear gradually over time.
Faint rashes on the skin are one of the late symptoms of meningitis, which can be caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitides. Meningococcal meningitis is caused by bacteria that multiply in the blood and infect capillary-lining cells. Capillary injury and tiny blood leaks result from the destruction of these cells.
This manifests as very light pink, red, or purple rash. There is a chance that the spots seem like tiny pinpricks, making them easy to confuse with bruises. The rash may become more noticeable as the virus develops and spreads. They’ll get much more pronounced and black.
Meningitis rash can be less noticeable in people with a darker complexion. The palms of your hands and the inside of your lips, which have lighter skin, may be the first places a rash becomes noticeable. The appearance of a rash might vary considerably. To visualize how a rash from meningitis can look, you can look at pictures of actual cases.
What Is Meningitis?
Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that cover your brain and spinal cord (meninges). This condition is also referred to as spinal meningitis. The meninges surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. They have a nervous system, blood vessels, and lubricating fluid (cerebrospinal fluid). Meningitis can be caused by infectious diseases like viruses and bacteria and non-infectious causes like cancer or head injuries.
Types Of Meningitis
Meningitis is typically brought on by a bacterial or viral infection. Besides viral meningitis, several bacterial strains can cause the disease as well. Fungal infections like cryptococcal and cancer-related conditions like carcinomatous are two such cases. These tend to be the rarer varieties.
Viral Meningitis: The majority of cases of meningitis are caused by viruses. About half of adult cases are caused by enteroviruses, and nearly two-thirds of newborn patients are caused by enteroviruses. These tend to occur more frequently in the warmer months of the year.
- Coxsackievirus A
- Coxsackievirus B
About 10–15 million infectionsTrusted Sources are caused annually by enteroviruses. However, only a fraction of those infected will develop meningitis. The meningitis-causing virus is not unique. Among these are:
- West Nile Virus
- Herpes Viruses
- Coltivirus, Which Causes Colorado Tick Fever
Fortunately, viral meningitis usually resolves itself without medical intervention. Some causes, however, do require medical attention.
Bacterial Meningitis: Infection with certain bacteria results in bacterial meningitis, which is highly contagious. If neglected, it can prove lethal. Bacterial meningitis kills around 1 in 10 persons and causes significant complications for 1 in 5. Even with the best care, this is a possibility. Bacterial meningitis is typically caused by one of these bacteria:
- Streptococcus pneumonia is typically found in the respiratory tract, sinuses, and nasal cavity and can cause “pneumococcal meningitis.”
- Neisseria meningitides are spread through saliva and other respiratory fluids and cause “meningococcal meningitis.”
- Listeria monocytogenes, which are foodborne bacteria
- Staphylococcus aureus typically found all over the skin and in the nasal passages, causes “staphylococcal meningitis.”
Fungal Meningitis: It is uncommon to acquire fungal meningitis. Fungal infection travels through the body and eventually reaches the central nervous system. Fungal meningitis is more common in people with compromised immune systems. Anyone with a terminal illness qualifies, such as those with cancer or HIV. Fungal meningitis is most often caused by the following fungi:
- Airborne Cryptococcus spreads by breathing in soil or dirt tainted with the feces of infected birds (most commonly pigeons and chickens) or decaying plant matter.
- It’s not uncommon to find the fungus Blastomyces in the soil, especially in the Midwest of the United States.
- Histoplasma is prevalent in the Midwestern United States, specifically in regions with high bat and bird guano concentrations.
- Soil with the fungus Coccidioides is prevalent in the American Southwest and parts of South and Central America.
Parasitic Meningitis: Parasites found in the dirt, dung, and on some animals and food like snails, raw fish, chicken, or veggies are the rare but real cause of this form of meningitis. Specific forms of parasitic meningitis are much less common than others. Eosinophilic meningitis describes this condition (EM). Three major parasites cause EM. Among these are:
- Angiostrongylus cantonensis
- Baylisascaris procyonis
- Gnathostoma spinigerum
You cannot catch parasitic meningitis from another individual. Parasites infect animals or live off of them in food that is later consumed by humans. Infection may result via ingestion of a parasite or parasite eggs if the parasite or eggs are infectious. Amebic meningitis is a potentially fatal kind of parasite meningitis that occurs only rarely.
This form is brought on by inhaling one of several kinds of ameba while swimming in polluted water sources like rivers, lakes, and ponds. Hallucinations, convulsions, and other debilitating symptoms may develop as brain tissue is destroyed by the parasite. The Naegleria fowleri is the most well-known species of this genus.
Non-infectious Meningitis: Noninfectious meningitis is not an infection. Instead, this is a secondary kind of meningitis brought on by something else, like an infection or chemotherapy. Among these are:
- A Head Injury
- Brain Surgery
- Certain Medications
Chronic Meningitis: Meningitis that persists for longer than four weeks is classified as regular. Fungal infections, rheumatological disorders, and malignant tumors are just a few potential root causes of chronic meningitis. If you have persistent meningitis, your treatment should focus on eliminating the underlying cause (i.e., managing rheumatoid arthritis).
Emma is a Master of Science candidate at the California Institute of Technology. Since approximately four years ago, she has been a freelance writer, producing content for newspapers, magazines, blogs, and the internet