Parents often get confused with the early symptoms of meningitis and flu. The truth is meningitis can affect your toddlers anytime as their immune systems are not fully developed.
Whether it is viral or bacterial meningitis, an immediate treatment is necessary, because this disease can put your child at risk of various disabilities including death.
What Is Meningitis?
Meningitis is the inflammation of the membrane that is surrounding the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. This is caused due to viral or bacterial infection.
- Viral meningitis usually goes away within 2 weeks, but bacterial meningitis can be deadly if not treated right away can cause brain and nerve damage.
- Vaccination can help reduce the number, but it does not eliminate the risk entirely. It is important for parents to learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis in toddlers, so that they can stay alert and act quickly.
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Causes Of Meningitis:
Meningitis occurs when bacterial or viral infection enters the bloodstream of your child and reaches her brain and spinal cord. It can also occur due to non-infectious causes, such as chemical reactions, cancer drug allergies, etc.
- Toddlers are usually at high risk of getting meningitis till 5 years of age. Even babies of 2 to 3 months old get meningitis known as neonatal meningitis.
- Fungal meningitis is very uncommon and it mimics mostly like bacterial ones. It can be life threatening if not treated with anti-fungal medication.
- Chronic meningitis occurs when slow growing organism invades the membrane.
Common Symptoms Of Meningitis In Toddlers:
Do not wait for the rash to develop. If your instinct says its meningitis, seek medical help immediately. A toddler with meningitis has some common symptoms like:
- Feeling drowsy
- Refuse to eat or drink
- Limb pain
- Stiffness in the body
- Rashes in the skin
- Sensitivity to light
- Cold hands and feet
[ Read: Concussion In Toddlers ]
Complications Due To Meningitis:
Bacterial meningitis needs extra attention as it causes serious complications which include:
- Kidney failure
- Slow development
- Learning disabilities
- Loss of hearing (this is the most common complication and therefore hearing test must be done once your toddler recovery)
- In case of breathing difficulty, your toddler might require oxygen supplemental or mechanical ventilation
Tests For Meningitis:
Immunization can prevent your toddler from this critical disease. Vaccines for mumps and polio measles can protect against micro-organism which cause meningitis.
Your doctor may ask for tests, like:
- Blood tests
- CT scan or MRI
- Urine Test
It is recommended to get a shot for meningococcal diseases by the age of 11 and booster shot by the age of 16.
[ Read: Measles In Toddlers ]
Treatment For Meningitis:
There is no specific treatment for meningitis. It takes 2 weeks to recover completely. Your toddler might need to be admitted in the hospital if the case is severe.
- Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics in a hospital. Your doctor may give dexamethasone, a type of steroid medicine to your toddler. Maintaining a good hygiene is always recommended.
- In case of mild viral meningitis symptoms in toddlers, only need home treatment. Your home treatment should include giving antibiotics for pain and fever and making your toddler drink fluid to stay hydrated.
Don’t let the thoughts of meningitis stress you out. Contagious types are easily preventable through vaccination. Also with good hygiene, you can keep your toddler protected from this disease.
Do share your tips on meningitis and how you can safeguard your toddler from this deadly disease.
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