Obstetrics & gynaecology

Further evidence of the dangers of smoking in pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy is understood to pose risks to both baby and mother. Now, new research led by the University of Glasgow has found further evidence that maternal smoking poses a risk to baby and child health.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

New protocol could ease diagnosis of bacterial infections in infants

A new protocol could help emergency room physicians to rule out life-threatening bacterial infections among infants up to 2 months of age who have fevers, potentially eliminating the need for spinal taps, unnecessary antibiotic ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Berlin nightclub patrons urged to get meningitis test

Berlin authorities on Thursday urged patrons of a famed nightclub in the German capital to immediately visit a doctor to be checked for bacterial meningitis after a visitor was hospitalized for the illness.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Doctors not talking about newer meningitis vaccine

(HealthDay)—Many U.S. doctors aren't telling teenaged patients and their parents about a newer vaccine for potentially deadly bacterial meningitis infections, a new study finds.

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Meningitis

Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore the condition is classified as a medical emergency.

The most common symptoms of meningitis are headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light (photophobia) or loud noises (phonophobia). Sometimes, especially in small children, only nonspecific symptoms may be present, such as irritability and drowsiness. If a rash is present, it may indicate a particular cause of meningitis; for instance, meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria may be accompanied by a characteristic rash.

A lumbar puncture may be used to diagnose or exclude meningitis. This involves inserting a needle into the spinal canal to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that envelops the brain and spinal cord. The CSF is then examined in a medical laboratory. The usual treatment for meningitis is the prompt application of antibiotics and sometimes antiviral drugs. In some situations, corticosteroid drugs can also be used to prevent complications from overactive inflammation. Meningitis can lead to serious long-term consequences such as deafness, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and cognitive deficits, especially if not treated quickly. Some forms of meningitis (such as those associated with meningococci, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococci or mumps virus infections) may be prevented by immunization.

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