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Bacterial meningitis is a serious medical condition in which a bacterial infection causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain. The most common form of bacterial meningitis treatment is antibiotics, the type of which depends on the bacteria responsible for an individual’s specific condition. The doctor might prescribe only one antibiotic, or a combination of antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria. While waiting for tests to identify exactly which type of bacteria is causing the illness, the doctor might prescribe a general antibiotic. After the results come in, the doctor will then alter the medication accordingly.
Antibiotics are the primary treatment option for bacterial meningitis because they kill the bacteria. There are other types of bacterial meningitis treatment that an affected individual might need, though, depending on his symptoms and specific situation. For example, to help reduce inflammation, the doctor might prescribe corticosteroid medication. Other symptoms that can also arise, and thus need medical attention, include brain swelling, dehydration or fever. Headache, stiff neck and vomiting can occur as well.
Bacterial meningitis treatment should begin early, as the condition is a life-threatening one. The condition can be acute or chronic, but in any case, not only can it result in death, it can cause lifelong harm to an affected individual. This is because the longer an individual goes without treatment, the greater his risk of acquiring serious complications, or suffering permanent damage. Complications include brain damage, seizures and shock—other problems include hearing loss, mental impairment and paralysis. Most people who do receive early and appropriate bacterial meningitis treatment recover from the illness.
Though bacterial meningitis is a serious condition, there are preventive measures available. The illness is contagious, which is usually how an individual acquires it in the first place. Once in an individual’s system, the bacteria travel to the brain and spinal cord via the bloodstream. One preventive measure, then, is to practice clean and healthy habits such as cooking food thoroughly, washing hands often, and keeping a distance from those who are sick.
In some cases, a bacterial meningitis infection can originate from infections or injuries, such as an ear infection or a skull fracture. A second preventive measure, then, is to keep up-to-date on immunizations. There are vaccines available for several types of bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis. Examples of vaccines are the haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7), and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV).