Meningitis is a medical condition that results in the protective membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain (known collectively as the meninges) becoming inflamed. Bacterial meningitis is meningitis that is caused by a bacterial infection. It is a condition that can be very deadly and life-threatening because of the proximity of the inflammation to the spinal cord and brain. There are some serious long-term consequences associated with bacterial meningitis, such as epilepsy, deafness, hydrocephalus, and significant deficits in cognitive performance.
Common symptoms of meningitis in adults include:
- Altered mental state
- Loss of hearing
- Nuchal rigidity (neck stiffness)
- Phonophobia (unable to tolerate loud noises)
- Photophobia (unable to tolerate light)
In the early stage of their illness, adults suffering from meningitis may also develop additional problems, such as sepsis, fast heart rate, a systemic inflammatory response syndrome of quickly falling blood pressure, rapid breathing, and disseminated intravascular coagulation, which can cause blood flow to the body’s organs to be obstructed which increases the risk of bleeding. A person’s brain tissue may swell with the increased pressure inside their skill due to the condition. Inflamed brain tissue may cause the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) around the brain to be obstructed, which causes hydrocephalus.
Often, small children do not exhibit these symptoms. Features that distinguish meningitis from other severe child illnesses include abnormal skin coloring, leg pain, and cold extremities. In infants, the fontanelle (the soft spot at the top of a baby’s head) can bulge, indicating meningitis.
To diagnose bacterial meningitis, a lumbar puncture may be used. This procedure involves inserting a needle into a person’s spinal canal to remove a sample of CSF. This fluid encircles a person’s spinal cord and brain. The CSF sample is examined in a medical lab to determine whether a person has bacterial meningitis. Treatment for meningitis is usually the prompt use of antibiotic drugs, and occasionally antiviral drugs. If there are significant complications from inflammation, in some situations corticosteroid drugs are used.
Pediatric bacterial meningitis is very dangerous and if left untreated, it has a high mortality rate. The sooner the treatment for meningitis is sought, for both children and adults, the better the outcome. If you believe you have any of the symptoms of meningitis, seek medical attention immediately.
Anyone who has contracted bacterial meningitis and believes it was due to medical malpractice or hospital negligence would be well-advised to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A skilled failure to treat meningitis lawyer can help you determine whether you have a substantial lawsuit and ensure that your rights are protected.