When you think of all the things that cause a headache it can be mind-boggling.But children complaining of a headache with fever is unusual and can be cause for worry.That’s why as a parent there are certain things you should be aware of and take necessary protection.On the event of the World Meningitis day, this is my way of helping spread the right words about meningitis and how you can prevent it.
10 Meningitis Facts That Every Parent Should Know
1)What exactly is meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the covering membranes which protect the brain and spinal cord.The cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the membranes may be infected.This causes membranes to become infected and inflamed.The protective membranes get weak and porous.
This disease can affect both children and adults.But the main problem in children is they are not able to complain and their system is not strong enough, if adequate preventive protection not given.
2)Symptoms and Signs of Meningitis
Meningitis is a serious condition which can cause a headache accompanied by fever in children.
Fever, poor feeding, neck rigidity are early warning signs of meningitis.The young child is irritable and may cry constantly.
A headache when in association with fever in a young child should be urgently assessed by a doctor.But often less than five years child may not even complain of headache, and that’s why you need to know other symptoms.
Other symptoms of meningitis include:
- General poor feeling, sudden high fever
- Poor feeding
- Skin rash
- Severe, persistent headache Neck stiffness(early warning in infants and babies)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Discomfort in bright lights
- Blurring of vision
- Double vision
- Eye pain
- Characteristic posture
- Drowsiness or difficulty in awakening
- Joint pain
- Confusion or other mental changes
3)What are the main types of meningitis?
4)Causes of Meningitis
Viral: Mumps, measles, enteroviral, chicken pox, herpes and many others.
Viral meningitis is most common and is less severe than bacterial meningitis.Bacterial Meningitis is a serious condition with potential for serious complications, death, and disability in survivors.
Bacterial Meningitis causes
- Hemophilus influenzae type B
5)Why do healthcare professionals worry?
- It’s often difficult to identify the exact bacterial cause of meningitis, till test results are available just from clinical features. The meningococcal rash is characteristic but some viral meningitis too may have rashes.
- It’s a fast progressing condition and needs urgent intervention and hospitalization.
- High risk of complications, disability, and mortality in susceptible.
The good news
There are vaccines available.
The HIB vaccine is included in National Immunization schedule and Pneumococcal Vaccine is often given according to IAP schedule .BCG vaccination included in national Immunization schedule gives 50 to 80% protection against tuberculous meningitis.If unvaccinated, untreated case of tuberculosis may be complicated by meningitis.
5)Who are at risk for Meningococcal Meningitis diseases?
- Meningococcal vaccination is recommended in special category cases like before cochlear implant surgery, before splenectomy
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Hepatic failure
- Immunodeficiaency due tocomplementt deficiency ,HIV,others
- Traveling to a country with hyperendemic or epidemic of this disease
- At risk during a community outbreak.
6) How does Meningococcal disease spread?
The problem is meningococcal infection is highly infectious.Spreads through cough and cold droplet infection.Has a rapid progression and can be life-threatening in small children.
7)What determines the course of disease and fatality?
Environment, host factors, bacterial factors, and prevention of disease steps all determine the course of the disease. The serum level of Bactericidal antibody has an inverse relationship with the immunity against meningococcus. It’s highest in newborn and adults and the lowest between 6months to two years of age. Maximum mortality hence occurs in this age group and is mainly due to Immunologic inexperience. The body’s defense mechanism at that age group is unable to recognize this dangerous bacteria for what it is.
8)Immunity develops to some extent through the asymptomatic carriage of pathogenic and nonpathogenic meningococci and of antigenically related species. Smokers and those exposed passively to secondary cigarette smoke have a poor nasociliary immune mechanism and are at risk. Neisseria meningitides is a gram-negative cocci and is a commensal in1 0% of human population nasopharynx
9)What do you need to know if your child is not able to express his feelings?
Infants and young children: High grade fever feeding difficulty and neck stiffness.Child cry is persistent and may become weak .
Nausea and projectile vomiting may be characteristic of signs of raised intracranial tension.Older child above five years will be able to complain about a headache and fever.
10)Important Takeaway: What can you do as a parent to prevent this deadly disease?
a)Check BCG vaccination was given or not(usually given at birth).
b)Check HIB vaccination was given or not: Usually given as a pentavalent vaccine along with DPT.
c)Talk to your Pediatrician about the Pneumococcal vaccine.
d)Talk to your Pediatrician about the need for the Meningococcal vaccine.
In case you are unsure about your child’s need for protection and vaccination consult your pediatrician. Be aware, stay protected stay healthy.
Check out the #Twitterchat I attended, to raise awareness about Meningitis.
— Blogchatter® (@blogchatter) September 11, 2018
Disclaimer: This article is meant to help create awareness and spread knowledge. All decision regarding your health and child’s health should be done after consultation with your doctor.Read my full disclosure hereWhile all efforts are made to keep articles updated the speed of research in these fields mean the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. Healthwealthbridge or the authors should be in no way held responsible in that case.
Written after consultation and discussion with Dr. Abhijit Misra (MD Pediatrician – Healthwealthbridge board of advisors).
Reference: Nelson Text Book of Pediatrics