Many parents scare their children with meningitis, so that they constantly monitor their health, and say that this is a very serious disease. Indeed, such fears are justified. What really is this disease? What preventive measures does modern medicine offer? This is what this article is about.
Meningitis is a fairly serious disease that involves the development of the inflammatory process. It is localized mainly in the membranes of the brain as well as the spinal cord. Despite the fact that for many decades, scientists have been trying to fight this ailment, it very often entails a lot of negative consequences. Moreover, doctors distinguish a number of features of the disease in children, which all parents should be aware of. Thus, the timely detection of the disease will immediately take the necessary measures.
Meningitis in children requires exceptionally qualified therapy. In this case, home treatment should not be considered. Despite the emergence of antibiotics and other effective drugs, over the past 50 years, the death rate from this disease has not decreased. That is why the appearance of the primary symptoms of the disease is so important to seek the help of a specialist.
Depending on the type of pathogen, meningitis in children is conditionally subdivided into several forms, namely:
- caused by protozoa (Toxoplasma, amoeba, etc.).
Pathogenic bacteria initially enter the human body. Then they provoke the development of serous or purulent inflammation in the membranes of the brain, which leads to tissue edema. The patient, as a rule, worsens the microcirculation of blood in the vessels of the brain. This process is often accompanied by an increase in intracranial pressure, which leads to the development of brain edema. In the future, the inflammatory process can spread to the so-called roots of the cranial and spinal nerves and directly to the brain substance itself. The incubation period for meningitis in children can last from two days to approximately 10 days.
The most common are only two of its forms: viral and bacterial. The last variant of the disease is considered especially dangerous for babies up to six months. It usually occurs in severe form and provokes long-term complications.
Viral meningitis in children is most often associated with a previously developed infection in the body, which initially manifested itself as a lesion of the digestive tract, nose or throat. As a rule, this form of the disease lasts less than two weeks, and in mild cases, the healing process is observed on the fourth day.
- bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa;
- birth trauma;
- various diseases of the nervous system;
- reduced immunity;
- mechanical injury.
According to experts, in young patients the symptoms of the disease can manifest themselves in different ways. Below we list the main signs of meningitis in children, characteristic of all its forms:
- Headache, increasing from the action of external stimuli (from bright light, loud music, etc.).
- High temperature (up to 39 degrees), which does not decrease under the action of all known antipyretic drugs.
- Muscle stiffness in the neck and back.
- Rash on the skin.
- Constant drowsiness, fatigue, excessive moodiness.
- Loss of consciousness.
What is the difference between viral meningitis in children? Symptoms in this case appear suddenly. In young patients between the ages of two and approximately up to 10 years, fever initially develops, and only after that drowsiness and irritability develop. In infants up to one year, doctors call the moodiness and the appearance of a dense fontanelle the main signs of the disease. Patients older than 10 years old are predominantly suffering from severe headaches, high blood pressure and rashes all over the body.
Bacterial meningitis in children also begins with a fever, and after a few days other accompanying symptoms appear. Severe muscle pain, disturbances in the respiratory system and digestion may be present. Older patients tend to complain of severe headaches, drowsiness, and so-called unconsciousness.
Of course, not always the primary signs of meningitis in children are considered the basis for diagnosis. It is very important in this case to conduct a full survey. It involves a lumbar puncture, which is necessary for the study of cerebrospinal fluid. The procedure itself is performed by means of a small sterile needle. The specialist enters it in the lower back, where the brain canal is located. During this procedure, special care should be taken not to damage the nearby nerves.
If the fluid collected for analysis will have a whitish hue, it is most likely a bacterial form of the ailment. Viral meningitis can be diagnosed if the fluid is clear and will come out of the puncture under strong pressure.
In addition, the diagnosis also implies a blood test for protein and sugar, the composition of cells.
In addition to puncture, if children are suspected of having meningitis, doctors prescribe an X-ray of the skull, computed tomography and electroencephalography. All of the above tests are really necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.
What should be therapy?
First of all, it should be noted that the treatment of meningitis in children at home is unacceptable. Medical care should be provided only in the hospital and under the constant supervision of a qualified specialist. This ailment is dangerous in that the condition of a small patient at any moment may worsen somewhat and even become critical. In this case, emergency resuscitation is required, which is possible only in a clinical setting. Treatment of meningitis in children involves taking antiviral and appropriate antibacterial drugs, the choice and dosage of which depend on the form of the disease and the patient’s condition.
Competent therapy is important not only to eliminate the root cause, but also to restore the work of nerve cells, eliminate symptoms. To normalize the functioning of the central nervous system is often prescribed drugs “Nootropil” and “Piracetam.” To get rid of the symptoms of toxicosis, the following drugs are recommended: Lasix, Torasemide.
The recovery period is usually 3-4 days, if appropriate measures were taken without delay. Cerebrospinal fluid, as a rule, returns to normal within a week. Then re-puncture is prescribed. In case of unsatisfactory results, the doctor adjusts the therapy.
Treatment: viral meningitis
In children, the symptoms in the initial stages are similar to those of the well-known flu. However, the high temperature already indicates the presence of a virus in the body. Independent attempts to help the child can only aggravate the situation.
Therapy in this case involves taking antibiotics. It is very difficult to determine the root cause of the disease, so at the initial stage, specialists prescribe medicines of a wide spectrum of action, and minor adjustments are possible during the whole course. Their reception, as a rule, lasts about 10 days, and after – another week (when the body temperature returns to normal).
Diuretics are recommended to neutralize cerebral edema (“Diacarb”, “Uregit”, “Lasix”). Intake of these drugs is important to combine with the use of large amounts of fluid.
Children after meningitis of this form should visit a neurologist for some time.
Treatment: bacterial meningitis
In this case, doctors prescribe intravenous injections of antibiotics and corticosteroids. The main function of the latter is to suppress the existing inflammatory process. As with viral meningitis, the doctor prescribes the simultaneous administration of several antibiotics at once (these can be Amoxil, Flemoxin, Benzylpenicillin). After determining the bacteria that provoked the disease, leave the only and most effective medication.
To minimize the possible negative effects of meningitis in children, experts recommend special salt solutions necessary to restore the water-salt balance in the body. It is often disturbed due to high temperature, vomiting and excessive sweating.
As noted above, the first signs of meningitis in children need to be stopped at an early stage. In the case of a timely request for help from a specialist, the probability of a positive outcome of therapy is very high. After the course of treatment, the small patient is allowed to lead a familiar life, since the ailment practically does not damage the main systems of the internal organs. However, it will be better not to burden the child with excessive physical and psychological stress.
If doctors have timely determined the presence of this disease in a small patient, they took appropriate measures to eliminate it, you should not be afraid of serious deviations in health. If the call to the hospital was not immediate or the parents began to help the child themselves, as a rule, the following consequences of meningitis in children are possible:
- total deafness;
- toxic shock;
- delay in physical / mental development;
- swelling of the brain;
- adrenal insufficiency;
Some of the above complications are fatal. In order to prevent such a sad development of events, parents should timely register the child with a neuropathologist, pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, and also take him for regular check-ups to these specialists.
The first signs of meningitis in children should alert all parents. They, in turn, need to immediately show the child to a specialist. If we take into account the fact that the treatment of this ailment is quite a long and difficult process, the prevention of the disease remains relevant. It involves the timely and adequate treatment of all acute and chronic diseases of an infectious nature. Doctors also recommend meningitis vaccinations at an early age. No less important is chemoprophylaxis for anyone who has been in direct contact with a sick person. Due to the fact that the disease is mainly transmitted by airborne droplets, it is better to refrain for some time from contact with the carrier of the infection or use special respirators and gauze bandages.
Forecast for the future
Unfortunately, it is impossible to say exactly what the prognosis for this or that patient will be. According to experts, in this situation, everything depends solely on the form of the disease, the patient’s condition and the timeliness of therapy. In some cases, there may be complications, which were discussed above. Unfortunately, today there is still a high mortality rate for children from this disease.
In this article, we talked about what constitutes a disease such as meningitis in children. Symptoms, treatment, prevention – these are just the most common questions that should be given special attention. All parents who care about the condition of their baby should be aware of this problem.
Meningitis is a rather dangerous and serious disease that everyone should try to protect their child from. If the circumstances turned out to be more difficult, it is necessary to take all measures for the speedy recovery of the little patient, to ensure proper rehabilitation. Only in this way can the development of serious complications and the consequences of this disease be avoided.