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Understanding Meningitis

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Meningitis is a fairly rare infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called meninges, hence the term meningitis. There are several types of meningitis:

  • Bacterial Meningitis is contagious among people in close contact and can be deadly.
  • Viral Meningitis is usually less severe, and most people recover completely from it.
  • Fungal Meningitis is rare and usually only appears in people with compromised immune systems.

How Does it Happen?

Most of the time, meningitis is caused by virus or bacterial infection. It begins elsewhere in the body, such as the upper respiratory tract, sinuses, or ears, and then spreads to the meninges. It can also be caused by medications, autoimmune disorders, or fungal infections, but these are more rare.

Bacterial Meningitis

This is a very serious illness that requires immediate medical attention. Death or permanent damage to the brain or other areas of the body can occur within hours if left untreated. There are several different kinds of bacteria that can cause it:

  • Meningococcus, which is the most common
  • Pneumococcus, which occurs in older patients with a weakened immune system
  • Haemophilus Influenza, type B, was common in infants and small children until a vaccine came out called hib.

Vaccines are also available for Meningococcus and Pneumococcus bacteria and are highly recommended for people with a special risk, such as a compromised immune system.

An infected person can pass the bacteria by sneezing or coughing. It is important for you to contact your health care provider if you are exposed to meningitis to find out what you can do to prevent contracting it. When bacteria gets into your bloodstream, it can travel to your brain and cause meningitis.

Viral Meningitis

This form of meningitis is more common and is usually less severe. There are many viruses that can trigger it, several of which cause diarrhea. Viral meningitis patients usually recover completely and are less likely to incur any brain damage.

Fungal Meningitis

This type of meningitis is rare. However, if you are suffering from a compromised immune system, from HIV for example, your chances of contracting it are greater.

Who is at Risk?

While anyone can contract meningitis, there are some age groups that have a higher incidence than others. These are:

  • Adults over age 55
  • Teens and Young Adults from age 16 to 25
  • Children under the age of 5

Certain medical conditions can also put you at risk, such as chronic disease or a damaged or missing spleen, and especially immune system disorders. These disorders occur when your immune system is either overactive or under active. When it is overactive, the body attacks itself; when it is under active, it decreases your ability to fight off infections. Some examples of immune system disorders are:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Guillian Barre Syndrome
  • Psoriasis
  • Graves Disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Rheumatic Fever

Meningitis outbreaks are most likely to occur in areas where people are living in close quarters, such as a college dorm or army personnel living in barracks. This is because certain germs that cause it can be contagious. People who travel are also at higher risk, particularly if you are traveling to certain parts of Africa where the disease is known to be prevalent.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are in one of the higher risk groups for contracting meningitis, it is still a rare disease, and there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting it.

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Immunity-Boosting Foods

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When it comes to your immune system, getting proper nutrition cannot be underestimated. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals you receive through your food are what keeps your body strong enough to fight off infection. It is important to make the following foods a part of your diet to ensure a good defense against colds and flu.

Beef

Beef will boost your immune system, because:

  • It is a good source of zinc, and zinc aids in the development of white blood cells.
  • These white blood cells improve both immune function and response.
  • It’s protein supports the building of antibodies to fight off infection.

Oily Fish

These types of fish include salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these fish:

  • Help reduce harmful inflammation in the body.
  • Control chronic inflammation that can keep your immune system from working properly.
  • Can prevent cold, flu, and more serious diseases.

They also contain Vitamin D, and as daylight hours decrease during the colder months of the year, your Vitamin D stores are depleted. Vitamin D:

  • Is critical to fighting off colds and flu.
  • Reduces the frequency and duration of colds and flu.

Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard, all contain significant amounts of Vitamin C which:

  • If consistently taken, they will shorten the duration of a cold or possibly prevent it altogether.
  • If cooked, they will shrink in size so you can consume more of them.
  • Increases white blood cell production.

Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

These vegetables are rich in beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A that:

  • Keeps the mucus membranes that line your nose, throat, and gastrointestinal tract, along with your skin, healthy.
  • By keeping these membranes healthy, it builds your first line of defense against colds and flu.

Chicken Soup

You really should eat chicken soup when you’re sick, and when you’re not. It combines many elements that boost your immune system. Hot chicken soup:

  • Raises the temperature in your airways, which loosens mucus secretions.
  • Releases cysteine, an amino acid that resembles a drug used to treat bronchitis.
  • Contains a high concentration of vegetables and protein that provide many different vitamins.

Garlic

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, garlic contains allicin, which has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Garlic has been shown to:

  • Cause you to experience fewer and less severe colds.
  • Promote balanced gut flora, which rids the body of viruses, bacteria, and toxins.
  • Contain the most antioxidants when eaten raw.

Yogurt

Yogurt contains microorganisms, or “good bacteria”, that keeps you healthy. It:

  • Is a probiotic food that replenishes this good bacteria.
  • Promotes digestive health.
  • Helps prevent stomach ailments.
  • Lowers the risk of upper respiratory infections.

Tea

While a hot cup of tea can soothe a sore throat and break up chest congestion, it also provides other benefits. All tea, green, black, or white contains catechins, which:

  • Are a group of antioxidants that contain flu-fighting properties.
  • Protect you from cancer and heart disease.
  • Increase your metabolism.
  • Boost your overall immunity.

Dark Chocolate

The nutritional benefits of cocoa are often overlooked, because many chocolate treats contain sugar and saturated fat. However, chocolate:

  • Contains polyphenols that are disease-fighting antioxidants.
  • Also contains a high concentration of zinc.
  • Can be consumed daily if you stick to 1/4 ounce servings.

The following foods are also recommended:

  • Oysters
  • Anise Seeds
  • Citrus
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Skinned Turkey Breast
  • Blueberries
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Oats

With this abundant selection of immunity-boosting foods, we can enjoy better health during cold and flu season and all year around.

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Symptoms of Lupus

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Millions of people suffer with the autoimmune disease known as Lupus. This chronic inflammatory disease affects a person’s immune system. Rather than fighting to protect your body from viruses and bacteria, the immune system actually attacks various organs and tissues. Since, Lupus can affect different parts of the body, its symptoms vary greatly from person to person. The intensity of these symptoms also varies greatly, but most people experience flares, which will worsen and improve randomly.

Below is a look at some of the main symptoms of Lupus.

  • Anemia – Characterized by lower than normal levels of red blood cells in the body’s blood.
  • Chest Pain – Chest pain that occurs when taking a deep breathe. This can be caused by an inflammation of the pleura membrane that surrounds the lungs, also referred to as Pleurisy.
  • Dry or Swollen Eyes – Lupus can cause dry eyes or even swelling and pain in the area surrounding the eyes.
  • Fatigue – Lupus oftentimes causes extreme fatigue that is typically more severe during and immediately after a flare.
  • Fever – Many patients experience unexplainable fevers.
  • Hair Loss – Depending on which organs and tissues are affected, Lupus may cause hair loss.
  • Headaches – Many Lupus patient complain of severe headaches, which may be accompanied by confusion or even memory loss.
  • Joint Pain – Lupus can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness of joints in the areas affected by the disease,
  • Photosensitivity – Some Lupus patients also experience a sensitivity to the sun and the light. In these cases, it is best to avoid direct sunlight when possible.
  • Rash – Many Lupus patients, but not all, experience a distinguishable rash on their face. This rash typically takes on a butterfly shape and spreads from the bridge of the nose outwards over both cheeks.
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon – This phenomenon causes a person’s fingers and/or toes to turn a whitish or bluish color when subjected to intense stress or extreme colds.
  • Shortness of Breath – In addition to chest pain, Lupus patients may experience periods of shortness of breath.
  • Skin Lesions – These types of lesions are most common among those whose Lupus affects their skin. Overexposure to direct sunlight should be avoided because this can worsen the lesions.
  • Swelling – Lupus patients commonly show signs of swelling in their feet and legs.
  • Unusual Blood Clotting – When Lupus affect the blood cells, a person may experience unusual blood clotting.
  • Ulcers – Some people with Lupus also experience frequent ulcers in the nose and/or mouth.

Lupus is sometime referred to as “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms are very similar to several other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems and fibromyalgia. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss these concerns.

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Understanding Sickle Cell Disease

Microscopic view of sicke cells causing anemia disease.

There are many kinds of diseases that are associated with blood. Some are contagious diseases. Others are developed within the body because of lifestyle or unhealthy habits. On the other hand, there are also such diseases that are inherited, and one of these diseases is sickle cell.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease, or SCD, is a red blood cell disorder that is passed on from parents to children. This red blood cell is identified as sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. There are many people with abnormal hemoglobin such as hemoglobin S, but the most common type of SCD is hemoglobin SS or sickle-cell anemia.

Overview

Our body tissues require oxygen, and this is being supplied by our hemoglobin or red blood cells throughout our body. Since hemoglobin has a round shape, it becomes flexible enough to easily flow through blood vessels. It’s soft and elastic, so it can fit freely flow along with other red blood cells.

Meanwhile, sickle cell has a sickle shape similar with that of a leech. Inside the sickle cell, there are strands that form such a shape, and these stands are hard. As a result, sickle cells don’t easily flow through blood vessels. Instead, they stick to the wall and block the blood vessel. Because of this, the supply of oxygen to our tissues are slowed down or even blocked completely.

When your body tissues don’t have enough supply of oxygen, you may suffer from severe pain crises. Such pain comes without early signs or warning, and this usually ends up being sent to the hospital for immediate treatment. In some cases, it can also harm or damage organs such as lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, and liver.

Causes

SCD is only inherited from a parent as it’s not contagious nor developed overtime. Nevertheless, the probability of inheriting sickle cell disease is low because even if your parent has SCD doesn’t necessarily mean you have also inherited it. There are factors that affect the transfer of SCD such as another parent’s condition. This means that both parents should have SCD in order to pass it on to their children. If only one of the parents has SCD, the disease will not be passed down.

Symptoms

There are different symptoms of sickle cell disease, and they vary from one patient to another depending on health condition. Nonetheless, these are some common symptoms you should observe:

  • Eye Problems
  • Slow Growth
  • Infections
  • Swelling
  • Pain

Swelling takes place in hands and feet; however, chronic pain is usually experienced by young adults who have SCD. If not managed properly, it may lead to bone damage and ulcers. Meanwhile, vision problems happen when eyes have the lack the supply of blood as a result of sickle cell blockage.

When You Should See a Doctor

Symptoms may be a false sign or just a sign of another different disease. It’s difficult to predict until you see a doctor. Visit a doctor if you see and experience the following signs:

  • Yellow Skin
  • Frequent Fever
  • Abnormal Swelling
  • Episodes of Pain

Treatment

The only cure for SCD is stem-cell transplant or bone marrow transplant. However, it has a lot of challenges to do so. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to find a donor, only those who are16 years old or below are able to undergo such an operation. Moreover, the operation is risky, and it sometimes leads to death. Nevertheless, antibiotics are administered to cure the crises or pain.

 

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Understanding Sickle cell

Microscopic view of sicke cells causing anemia disease.

Image is from guardian.ng

There are many kinds of diseases that are associated with blood. Some are contagious diseases. Others are developed within the body because of lifestyle or unhealthy habits. On the other hand, there are also such diseases that are inherited, and one of these diseases is sickle cell.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease or SCD is a red blood cell disorder that is passed on from parents to children. This red blood cell is identified as sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. There are many people with abnormal hemoglobin such as hemoglobin S, but the most common type of SCD is hemoglobin SS or sickle-cell anemia.

Overview

Our body tissues require oxygen, and this is being supplied by our hemoglobin or red blood cells throughout our body. Since hemoglobin has a round shape, it becomes flexible enough to easily flow through blood vessels. It’s soft and elastic, so it can fit freely flow along with other red blood cells.

Meanwhile, sickle cell has a sickle shape similar with that of a leech. Inside the sickle cell, there are strands that form such a shape, and these stands are hard. As a result, sickle cells don’t easily flow through blood vessels. Instead, they stick to the wall and block the blood vessel. Because of this, the supply of oxygen to our tissues are slowed down or even blocked completely.

When your body tissues don’t have enough supply of oxygen, you may suffer from severe pain crises. Such pain comes without early signs or warning, and this usually ends up being sent to the hospital for immediate treatment. In some cases, it can also harm or damage organs such as lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, and liver.

Causes

SCD is only inherited from a parent as it’s not contagious nor developed overtime. Nevertheless, the probability of inheriting sickle cell disease is low because even if your parent has SCD doesn’t necessarily mean you have also inherited it. There are factors that affect the transfer of SCD such as another parent’s condition. This means that both parents should have SCD in order to pass it on to their children. If only one of the parents has SCD, the disease will not be passed down.

Symptoms

There are different symptoms of sickle cell disease, and they vary from one patient to another depending on health condition. Nonetheless, these are some common symptoms you should observe:

  • Eye Problems
  • Slow Growth
  • Infections
  • Swelling
  • Pain

Swelling takes place in hands and feet; however, chronic pain is usually experienced by young adults who have SCD. If not managed properly, it may lead to bone damage and ulcers. Meanwhile, vision problems happen when eyes have the lack the supply of blood as a result of sickle cell blockage.

When You Should See a Doctor

Symptoms may be a false sign or just a sign of another different disease. It’s difficult to predict until you see a doctor. Visit a doctor if you see and experience the following signs:

  • Yellow Skin
  • Frequent Fever
  • Abnormal Swelling
  • Episodes of Pain

Treatment

The only cure for SCD is stem-cell transplant or bone marrow transplant. However, it has a lot of challenges to do so. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to find a donor, only those who are16 years old or below are able to undergo such an operation. Moreover, the operation is risky, and it sometimes leads to death. Nevertheless, antibiotics are administered to cure the crises or pain.

 

 

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Causes of Group B Strep

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What is Group B Strep?

Group B strep are bacteria that can colonize in the vagina, rectal, and intestinal area of healthy adults and pregnant women. Statistically, about 25% of all healthy adults will at one time have a GBS infection.

While pregnant women do not often show symptoms of a GBS infection, there is a risk that they can transmit the infection to their newborn baby. Once transmitted, some newborns may develop complication which can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and even sepsis, so infants who are at risk need to be monitored. The best way to prevent this is through early detection in the mother and administration of antibiotics to treat it.

Group B Strep infections can also occur in nonpregnant adults who suffer from chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Typically those over 65 are at higher risk, but the incident rates of GBS infection in nonpregnant adults has been steadily increasing throughout the years.

Causes of Group B Strep

Healthy people can carry Group B Strep in their body at any time, it can also come and go or can stay permanently.

GBS can be found in some pregnant women and if not treated can pass to their newborns. When newborns contract Group B Strep infection in the first week of life it is called early onset. For babies who are 1 to 3 weeks of age when they develop the disease, it is termed late-onset.

How Can Group B Strep be Transmitted?

Group B Strep is transmitted by a pregnant mother to their babies during a vaginal birth. Typically mothers who test positive will be given antibiotics during delivery to reduce the risk of transmission. This will occur in about 50% of mothers who have an active infection during birth.

Out of this 50%, only about 100 to 200 of these babies born will develop a GBS infection requiring treatment.

Who’s at Higher Risk for Group B Strep?

When it comes to having Group B Strep, the incident rates are higher among African Americans than Caucasians. While there are not many statistical differences with a mother becoming a GBS carrier, there are some instances where there is a higher risk of transmission to the infant, including:

  • Early onset of labor
  • Fever during labor and delivery
  • An active urinary tract infection
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Previous Group B Strep infection
  • Positive GBS culture after 35 weeks or pregnancy

Symptoms of GBS Infection

When an active Group B Strep infection is present, there can be some symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Some of the symptoms to watch out for include.

In Newborns

  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Bluish color
  • limpness
  • Stiffness
  • Breath complications
  • Diarrhea
  • Fussiness
  • Problems with heart rate and blood pressure
  • Problems feeding

In Adults

  • Skin infections
  • Sepsis
  • Lung infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Meningitis
  • Joint infections

Treatment of GBS

While the most common form of treatment is to treat the mother with antibiotics during labor to prevent the transmission, once contracted a GBS infection is typically treated with IV antibiotics and sometimes a surgical procedure if a bone or joint infection is present.

While GBS infections can result in severe complications, they are often preventable in newborns with routine maternal screening which makes prenatal care essential to protecting your newborn against such infections.

 

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Significance of International Group B Strep Awareness Month

AwarenessMonth_Twitter

July the Awareness Month for Strep B

July is the awareness month that helps educate expecting moms and individuals about Strep B. Strep B stands for Streptococcus a dangerous bacterium that can cause illness in newborns and individuals with weak and even strong immune systems.

Most of the time there are no symptoms presents when a person is infected with the bacterial infection, which is why it is essential for expecting moms to be screened for it before they give birth. If the infection is not caught before the newborn arrives and it is present, the infection can pass right onto the newborn during delivery. If a newborn ends up catching the illness there is potential for it to become serious and even fatal.

Why is Strep B so dangerous?

Strep B is so dangerous because it can turn into meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia without proper diagnoses and treatment. People with strong immune systems can typically survive and fight off these types of infections, but newborn babies during the first weeks of life tend to struggle. This is due to their weakened immune systems, and why so many babies who contract the Strep B illness pass away. Other health problems that can arise from suffering from a Strep B infection are hearing loss, and mental and physical disabilities.

How is Strep B tested?

Expecting moms and individuals are tested for Strep B through a genital swab test. Sometimes testing can be done with a simple urine or blood test. Pregnant women get this test done by their OBGYN or midwife at 37 weeks of pregnancy. Those who suspect they may have it can ask their family doctor to test for the infection.

With that said, the only true way an individual can know for themselves that they could be potentially infected with the bacterium is by experiencing symptoms. Without symptoms, individuals don’t usually suspect any can of infection until it becomes so serious staying in the hospital is essential for intense treatment to help rid the infection from the body.

What are some of the symptoms of the infection?

  • Infection setting into an area of skin
  • Painful urination with a UTI
  • Constant fever with chills
  • Lethargy
  • Skin rashes or infections
  • Vaginal discharge and discomforts
  • Inflammation in the lungs or joints of the body
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches and dizziness if the infection spreads to the brain

Where does the Strep B bacterium live within the body?

Strep B bacterium is found in the mouth, throat, genital area, rectum and sometimes even bloodstream of the body. It is passed through bodily fluid contact, or simply encountering the bacteria hanging out on an individual’s skin. If an individual does become infected with Strep B, thankfully there are treatments that work effectively with curing the illness.

What are the antibiotics for most useful for treating the infection?

The antibiotics most commonly used for treating the Strep B infection are ampicillin, penicillin, cefazolin and clindamycin. These medications are provided orally, but with serious infection they are given through IV in the hospital. You can only get these medications through prescriptions from doctors.

End Thoughts for the Significance of Strep B Awareness Month?

The best way to save lives from Strep B is by becoming educated and educating others about the infection. July’s awareness month is the perfect opportunity to get the word out there to help promote proper screening for it in individuals of all ages. After all, everyone deserves to know about potentially life threatening infections that are preventable through proper screening and testing and treatable with simple antibiotics.

 

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World Sickle Cell Day

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Image is from TheHealthSite.com

World Sickle Cell Day is acknowledged on June 19th each year to bring awareness to this widespread blood disorder. Sickle Cell Disease is the most frequent genetic disease worldwide and is present on four continents. The United Nations estimates that over 500,000 people are born with this condition each year and that 50% of those affected could die before the age of 5.

What is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Disease is a red blood cell disease that is inherited, meaning it is not contagious but a genetic event that people are born with. The affected red blood cells contain mostly hemoglobin S, considered an abnormal type of hemoglobin.

This abnormality causes many of the cells to form an abnormal sickle, or crescent-like, shape. Abnormally shaped blood cells are not able to travel the body as typical round cells, getting stuck or slowing down blood flow to affected areas, and causing further problems.

In addition to affecting blood flow, these crescent-shaped cells are also less hearty than traditional blood cells and are destroyed faster within the body. Patients frequent suffer from anemia, gallstones, and jaundice. Serious illness can be caused by limited blood flow to the lungs and limbs, including stroke and organ damage. Patients are also highly susceptible to bacteria and infection.

How is Sickle Cell Treated?

There is no universal cure for Sickle Cell Disease. Affected patients are divided into three primary groups including Sickle Cell Anemia, Sickle-Hemoglobin C Disease, and Sickle Beta Thalassemia. Treatments for each disease subgroup will vary.

Treatment of symptoms is common, using antibiotics for infection, blood transfusion for blood clots, and medication for pain. Frequent blood transfusion can cause their own problems too, increasing iron in the blood too much, so this is not an ideal solution. Current treatments focus on maintaining patient overall health, and treating symptoms as they arise.

Droxia, the manufacturer name for a drug called hydroxyurea, has been used with some success since FDA approval in 1998, but further research and treatment is still needed.

How Can I find out more about World Sickle Cell Day?

This specific day of awareness was created by a United Nations resolution and features worldwide activities, many of which can be found on the World Sickle Cell Day’s Facebook page.

While different areas may have additional Sickle Cell Awareness events, including Sickle Cell Awareness month in the United States, June 19th represents the united global event. World Sickle Cell Day online provides many resources about this global awareness event including history, the text of the United Nations resolution and involved organizations, and event listing of years past.

Contact these groups to join Sickle Cell awareness and fundraising events in your area.

 

 

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Understanding Meningitis

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Image is from Pinterest

Meningitis is a fairly rare infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called meninges, hence the term meningitis. There are several types of meningitis:

  • Bacterial Meningitis is contagious among people in close contact and can be deadly.
  • Viral Meningitis is usually less severe, and most people recover completely from it.
  • Fungal Meningitis is rare and usually only appears in people with compromised immune systems.

How Does it Happen?

Most of the time, meningitis is caused by virus or bacterial infection. It begins elsewhere in the body, such as the upper respiratory tract, sinuses, or ears, and then spreads to the meninges. It can also be caused by medications, autoimmune disorders, or fungal infections, but these are more rare.

Bacterial Meningitis

This is a very serious illness that requires immediate medical attention. Death or permanent damage to the brain or other areas of the body can occur within hours if left untreated. There are several different kinds of bacteria that can cause it:

  • Meningococcus, which is the most common
  • Pneumococcus, which occurs in older patients with a weakened immune system
  • Haemophilus Influenza, type B, was common in infants and small children until a vaccine came out called hib.

Vaccines are also available for Meningococcus and Pneumococcus bacteria and are highly recommended for people with a special risk, such as a compromised immune system.

An infected person can pass the bacteria by sneezing or coughing. It is important for you to contact your health care provider if you are exposed to meningitis to find out what you can do to prevent contracting it. When bacteria gets into your bloodstream, it can travel to your brain and cause meningitis.

Viral Meningitis

This form of meningitis is more common and is usually less severe. There are many viruses that can trigger it, several of which cause diarrhea. Viral meningitis patients usually recover completely and are less likely to incur any brain damage.

Fungal Meningitis

This type of meningitis is rare. However, if you are suffering from a compromised immune system, from HIV for example, your chances of contracting it are greater.

Who is at Risk?

While anyone can contract meningitis, there are some age groups that have a higher incidence than others. These are:

  • Adults over age 55
  • Teens and Young Adults from age 16 to 25
  • Children under the age of 5

Certain medical conditions can also put you at risk, such as chronic disease or a damaged or missing spleen, and especially immune system disorders. These disorders occur when your immune system is either overactive or under active. When it is overactive, the body attacks itself; when it is under active, it decreases your ability to fight off infections. Some examples of immune system disorders are:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Guillian Barre Syndrome
  • Psoriasis
  • Graves Disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Rheumatic Fever

Meningitis outbreaks are most likely to occur in areas where people are living in close quarters, such as a college dorm or army personnel living in barracks. This is because certain germs that cause it can be contagious. People who travel are also at higher risk, particularly if you are traveling to certain parts of Africa where the disease is known to be prevalent.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are in one of the higher risk groups for contracting meningitis, it is still a rare disease, and there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting it.

 

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Lupus Symptoms

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Image is from Lupus Foundation of America

Millions of people suffer with the autoimmune disease known as Lupus. This chronic inflammatory disease affects a person’s immune system. Rather than fighting to protect your body from viruses and bacteria, the immune system actually attacks various organs and tissues. Since, Lupus can affect different parts of the body, its symptoms vary greatly from person to person. The intensity of these symptoms also varies greatly, but most people experience flares, which will worsen and improve randomly.

Below is a look at some of the main symptoms of Lupus.

  • Anemia – Characterized by lower than normal levels of red blood cells in the body’s blood.
  • Chest Pain – Chest pain that occurs when taking a deep breathe. This can be caused by an inflammation of the pleura membrane that surrounds the lungs, also referred to as Pleurisy.
  • Dry or Swollen Eyes – Lupus can cause dry eyes or even swelling and pain in the area surrounding the eyes.
  • Fatigue – Lupus oftentimes causes extreme fatigue that is typically more severe during and immediately after a flare.
  • Fever – Many patients experience unexplainable fevers.
  • Hair Loss – Depending on which organs and tissues are affected, Lupus may cause hair loss.
  • Headaches – Many Lupus patient complain of severe headaches, which may be accompanied by confusion or even memory loss.
  • Joint Pain – Lupus can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness of joints in the areas affected by the disease,
  • Photosensitivity – Some Lupus patients also experience a sensitivity to the sun and the light. In these cases, it is best to avoid direct sunlight when possible.
  • Rash – Many Lupus patients, but not all, experience a distinguishable rash on their face. This rash typically takes on a butterfly shape and spreads from the bridge of the nose outwards over both cheeks.
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon – This phenomenon causes a person’s fingers and/or toes to turn a whitish or bluish color when subjected to intense stress or extreme colds.
  • Shortness of Breath – In addition to chest pain, Lupus patients may experience periods of shortness of breath.
  • Skin Lesions – These types of lesions are most common among those whose Lupus affects their skin. Overexposure to direct sunlight should be avoided because this can worsen the lesions.
  • Swelling – Lupus patients commonly show signs of swelling in their feet and legs.
  • Unusual Blood Clotting – When Lupus affect the blood cells, a person may experience unusual blood clotting.
  • Ulcers – Some people with Lupus also experience frequent ulcers in the nose and/or mouth.

Lupus is sometime referred to as “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms are very similar to several other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems and fibromyalgia. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss these concerns.

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