Viral Meningitis is caused due to the inflammation of the delicate membranes that protect the meninges. This article highlights the viral meningitis symptoms and treatment.
Meningitis refers to the inflammation of the protective membrane around the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by virus, bacteria, as well as other microorganisms. The clinical features of the infection include symptoms, like severe headache, fever, and altered consciousness, among a myriad of other symptoms, that differ from one patient to another. The condition is diagnosed via lumbar puncture, to analyze the quality of the cerebrospinal fluid or CSF. It can be treated with antibiotics, corticosteroid drugs, and antiviral drugs. If neglected, the complications that set in include epilepsy, cognitive deficits, and hydrocephalus. The viruses that cause meningitis are enteroviruses, that are also responsible for herpes simplex type 2 virus, varicella zoster virus, mumps virus, HIV virus, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) virus.
The treatment of the inflammation is mainly adopted after primary blood tests. These tests are conducted to identify levels of C-reactive protein and blood count. Blood cultures are also studied to ascertain the extent of inflammation. Diagnosis also includes cerebrospinal fluid analysis, level of brain herniation (if the condition is advanced), CT scan, and MRI scan. Other specialized tests such as the latex agglutination test, Ziehl-Neelsen stain, limulus lysate test, Serology, and Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are also conducted to identify the various causes of the condition that are viral in nature.
The meninges comprises the cerebrospinal fluid, brain, and spinal cord. These make up the central nervous system. It also includes the impermeable membrane on the surface of the brain, the web-like sac on the pia mater, and the subarachnoid space.
- The symptoms of viral meningitis include a severe headache, and the inability to move the neck region easily.
- The increased stiffness of the neck muscles leads to nuchal rigidity.
- A high fever brings on intolerance to light and loud noises, bulging of the fontanelle, leg pain, and sometimes, abnormality in skin color.
- Nuchal rigidity is often accompanied by Kernig’s sign. In this condition, the patient lies supine, with the knee and hip at a 90 degree angle.
- In the symptom called the Brudzinski’s sign, any flexing of the neck region automatically leads to the involuntary flexing of the hip and knee.
- The patient may develop additional problems such as sepsis, low blood pressure, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate.
- The complications also include excessive blood clotting and the setting in of gangrene.
- Internally, the condition takes a toll on the delicate brain tissue. It swells, and if the corresponding pressure within the skull is not taken care of in time, the neglect may lead to a loss of consciousness and abnormal body positioning.
- This inflammation obstructs the regular flow of CSF within the hydrocephalus, leading to seizures. The seizures may involve one or more than one limb of the body.
- Patients also suffer impaired visual and auditory powers.
- Weakness, a total loss of sensation in one or more limb-region of the body, and even abnormal movements of various body parts have been recorded.
Meningitis has a potentially high mortality rate. The treatment of the condition involves a number of antibiotics such as, benzylpenicillin and various intravenous fluids. Mechanical measures are introduced for ventilation in the case of decreased consciousness, respiratory failure, and cerebral perfusion pressure. Viral meningitis is mainly treated via supportive therapy. Antiviral drugs like aciclovir and analgesics are used in the treatment. Prophylaxis via vaccine is also an effective treatment. Vaccinations are a part of routine schemes to eliminate the pathogen, in many countries.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.