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This lesson will discuss something known as bacterial meningitis. We’ll talk about the causes of this condition, ways by which you can get it, diagnosis and treatments strategies, as well as the symptoms and signs associated with bacterial meningitis.

A Bad Hangover

If I told you that your friend was experiencing confusion, irritability, vomiting, and a headache, you might think that they’re suffering from a hangover. However, it may not be a hangover at all. While alcohol is dangerous for our body for a wide variety of reasons, someone experiencing the signs and symptoms I just described may be suffering from something far more deadly, as this lesson will explore.

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Bacterial Meningitis

Let’s pretend you and some of your friends took a trip to Las Vegas to party for a week or so. It was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime that even Hollywood couldn’t dream up.

You notice that some of your friends are definitely experiencing symptoms of a hangover from all of the partying you did last night, but another friend isn’t just irritable, confused, and suffering from a massive headache. No, he is experiencing some other signs associated with something known as bacterial meningitis. This is a condition that results in the inflammation of the protective membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord due to a bacterial cause.

These signs and symptoms also include:

  • A stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Hearing loss
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Coma

and many others.The reason many of these symptoms occur is because the inflammatory response that tries to kill these invasive bacteria produces a lot of swelling and compression of nerves, leading to impaired vision or hearing as well as seizures. In addition, the inflammatory process ends up harming everything in its path, not just bacteria. This causes the inadvertent destruction of some of our own body’s cells, which causes even more serious signs and symptoms associated with meningitis.

Transmission and Causes of Bacterial Meningitis

Even though bacterial meningitis affects, for the most part, the brain, it has a very important respiratory component as well. You see, when you guys were out clubbing, dancing, and raving last night in a stuffy nightclub, something really sinister was lurking in the smoke obscuring the dance floor.In that smoky air, meningitis-causing bacteria were floating around, some of which may have been inhaled by your poor friend after a sick person dancing next to him sneezed some of them out.

However, that’s not the only way to transmit this condition.Your friend was also making out with a complete stranger on the dance floor despite their protests about your friend’s terrible beard, creepy sunglasses, and awful body odor. By kissing a complete stranger, he exposed himself to even more meningitis-causing bacteria.Some of the bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis include:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Listeria monocytogenes

Diagnosis and Treatment

Thankfully, your friend was driven to the hospital and wasn’t just treated with coffee and a cold shower for an apparent hangover.The doctors at the hospital almost certainly took a sample of cerebrospinal fluid by tapping the spinal cord.

What this basically means is that while your friend was dreaming about the girl he kissed at the club, the doctors put a needle into his spinal canal to get the protective fluid that surrounds the spinal cord, known as cerebrospinal fluid, out for analysis. If that fluid shows evidence of things such as bacteria and inflammatory cells, then bacterial meningitis would be suspected and would have to be treated.The way that bacterial meningitis is treated is mainly two-fold. The first one is obvious. You need to give antibiotics, or drugs that kill bacteria, to your friend.

However, I mentioned that some pretty damaging inflammation may be occurring. Antibiotics will not suppress any inflammation on their own.Therefore, inflammation-suppressing drugs, such as steroids, may also be given when treating some cases of bacterial meningitis, although this approach isn’t without controversy in the medical community for reasons way beyond the scope of this lesson.

Lesson Summary

In any case, your poor friend will just have to stick to drinking antibiotics from now on if he wants to avoid bacterial meningitis, a condition that results in the inflammation of the protective membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord due to a bacterial cause.Some of the bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis include:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Listeria monocytogenes

And they cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting, confusion, and headaches
  • A stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Hearing loss
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Coma

Learning Outcomes

When the video lesson is done, you should be able to:

  • Describe the symptoms of bacterial meningitis
  • Detail the possible causes of meningitis
  • Define the drug treatments for the disease

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