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Meningitis Diagnosis


Early meningitis diagnosis and treatment is vital.

If you suspect that you or someone you know have meningitis, early diagnosis and treatment of the disease is crucial. Meningitis is often mistaken for the flu with irreversible consequences. There are 5 types of meningitis, caused by diverse factors and each requires different treatment. Bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis are the two most common forms of the disease. Viral meningitis often resolves on its own but bacterial meningitis requires early diagnosis and treatment.

Anybody that experience sudden fever, stiff neck, nausea, severe headache and disorientation should seek immediate professional medical attention. The progression of meningitis can be rapid and in some cases life-threatening. You are better off being sure and safe by obtaining a medical diagnosis.

Diagnosing meningitis

Your physical examination will be performed by your GP to determine specific signs of meningitis. Antibiotics might be prescribed in some cases based on the known meningitis causing pathogens before determining the type of meningitis you have. Where additional laboratory analysis is required, you may be asked by your GP to provide blood or fluid samples, or undergo further testing. Results from laboratory analysis can take a few days.

Tests to diagnose meningitis may include:

  • Blood test to analyze foreign bodies and antibodies.
  • CT scan can reveal abnormalities such as inflammation, hemorrhage, internal bleeding, and abscess and or swelling that could make lumbar puncture unsafe.
  • A lumbar punch test could be the most revealing when confirming meningitis infection. The infection of the cerebral spinal fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord is often caused by meningitis. A lumbar punch test enables your medical practitioner to collect a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid from a small area in your lower back. The type of infection is determined after the fluid is sent to a lab for analysis. The results of these tests could deliver a clear indication of whether the meningitis is viral, fungal or bacterial.

Additional tests that your doctor might perform if he suspects meningitis:

  • Urine sample (culture to distinguish organisms)
  • Nasal swab and stool sample to confirm virology if viral meningitis is suspected
  • Blood tests to clear suspicion of syphilis involvement.
  • Whole blood real-time PCR testing for meningitides to exclude or confirm a diagnosis of meningococcal disease.
  • Blood culture for virus and bacterial growth. This test will help diagnosing infection and
  • Blood glucose levels (will be very low if bacterial infection is present)

Your doctor might require you to have an X-ray done to look for signs of pneumonia or fluids that may be in the lungs. Liver and renal function test are not uncommon if meningitis is suspected.

Bacterial meningitis normally reveals more neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) and lower glucose levels. Viral meningitis tends to have a surplus of lymphocytes (another type of white blood cell) and higher levels of protein.

Based on test results, your doctor will be able to make the correct diagnosis and recommend treatment for the specific meningitis disease.

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