What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes of the brain, spinal cord, and ventricles due to an infection. There are three types of meningitis: bacterial, viral and fungal.
Acute Bacterial Meningitis (ABM) is one of the major causes of disease and death around the world. Even with new and improved treatments available, ABM causes a high number of deaths in India and other developing countries. The mortality rate in these countries ranges from 16-32%. Meningococcal disease is highly prevalent in Delhi. States like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Orissa also have reported a high number of cases of meningitis, according to a study.
Bacterial meningitis has to be reviewed periodically because the infective pathogens vary with time, geography and patient age. With new data in hand, new and stronger medicines can be made to deal with this disease.
Is Management of Meningitis Difficult?
Management of meningitis is difficult because of these reasons:
- Clinical Diagnosis: The symptoms of acute meningitis are very difficult to diagnose in older adults or those with critical illnesses. In many cases, these signs are simply absent. This leads to late diagnosis which may prove fatal.
- Laboratory Diagnosis: Many times, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of a person with meningitis might give improper results. However, there are certain readings like high WBC levels or elevated protein levels. The CSF is then tested for other possible medical conditions like TB that can lead to such changes. Proper lab diagnosis could ensure meningitis is treated in the early stages.
- Treatment: Once meningitis is diagnosed, the course of treatment might pose a challenge. Very strong antibiotics are used or sometimes corticosteroids can be used. The patient has to be tested for tolerance and acceptability of such medications.
- Supportive Medication: Ayurveda offers a few supportive medications for the treatment of meningitis. These medicines should only be consumed after consulting a certified Ayurvedic practitioner.
- Guluchyadi Kashayam
- Amruthotharam Kashayam
- Indukantham Kashayam
- Sudarshan vati
- Mahasudarshan churna
- Tribhuvan kirti rasa
You can take tulsi extract with honey twice a day.
Morbidity and Mortality of Meningitis
The morbidity and mortality due to meningitis depend on the pathogen, the patient’s age, and condition and the severity of the illness. The rate of death is very high in older adults and those with immunocompromised conditions. Pneumococcal meningitis is the most dangerous. The death rate with this type of meningitis is 20-30% in older adults. Meningococcal meningitis has a better prognosis with a mortality rate of 4-5%. Meningococcemia, on the other hand, has a high mortality rate of 20-30%.
Incidence of Infection
In developed countries, the incidence of meningitis is quite low (1-2 per 100,000). However, in developing countries, there are higher incidence rates of up to 20 per 100,000. In temperate countries, the incidence of meningitis is higher in winters than in summers. Incidence of meningitis is high in the early years, then decreases in young adults, then increases again in older adults. If an older adult already has a serious medical condition, the incidence is higher. Pneumococcal meningitis has a high fatality rate than meningococcal and Hib meningitis.
Meningitis remains a major health issue yet, despite vaccination programs conducted periodically. Creating more awareness and giving access to more affordable meningitis drugs to the common population could go a long way in reducing the incidence of meningitis in older adults in India and other developing countries.
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