Out of the five types of meningitis, the viral form is the most common. It is usually less severe than its counterparts and most people recover on their own without treatment. However, the illness still requires the diagnosis of a doctor to make sure that it’s not one of the more dangerous types.
With thousands of cases each year in the United States alone, it’s important to know the symptoms of this illness, along with how to avoid contracting it.
What Is Viral Meningitis?
Viral meningitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. This inflammation results in numerous unpleasant symptoms including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mental confusion
- Difficulty awakening from sleep
- Stiff neck or muscles
- Muscle pain
- Dislike of bright lights
For the most part, treatment involves the quelling of symptoms. Why? Often, viral meningitis is caused by viruses, which can’t be treated with antibiotics. And since this illness usually resolves itself, treatment is given mainly to make an individual more comfortable in the meantime.
Are You at Risk?
We mentioned viruses being a common cause of meningitis. Mumps, measles and the herpes virus are all possible culprits. We‘re all exposed to these countless times throughout our lives; however, most of us never contract meningitis from them. So what factors could increase a person’s risk?
Research has shown that children under the age of five — and especially babies under one month old — are more susceptible. So are others who have weakened immune systems, possibly due to a disease, a certain medication or a recent transplant. Without a proper defense, a person is more likely to be affected.
Are there any other factors that contribute, though? Yes. Individuals that are frequently in crowded areas have an increased risk. After all, the more people passing through or spending time in an area, the more germs that are present there. Such places could include college dorms, your workplace, crowded metropolitan areas and the like.
Do you meet some of the above criteria? No matter whether you answered “yes” or “no,” it’s still important to protect yourself. Read on to find out how you can do that.
How to Decrease Your Risk
What can you do to decrease your chances of coming down with viral meningitis or any form of meningitis period? Outlined below are several precautions that you can take.
- Make sure to receive vaccines for mumps, measles and other viruses that could result in meningitis. Make sure that your children are up to date on their vaccinations.
- Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Disinfect commonly used surfaces and items, especially if someone around you is sick. This includes toys, doorknobs and electronic devices.
- Protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects known for carrying diseases.
- As much as possible, avoid physical contact with people who are sick.
By doing these things, you can keep yourself and others around you protected. As we said before, viral meningitis usually isn’t as severe as its kinfolk. However, it’s still no fun to suffer from, that’s for sure! Why not improve your chances of living meningitis free?