Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is usually caused by bacteria or viruses (viral meningitis is also called aseptic meningitis). Less common causes include fungi, protozoa, and other parasites. Sometimes certain medications, cancers, or other diseases can inflame the meninges, although such noninfectious cases of meningitis are much rarer.
The first symptoms of meningitis may surface several days after a person has had a cold and runny nose, diarrhea and vomiting, or other signs of a bacterial or viral infection. Some of the more common symptoms of meningitis include fever, lethargy (decreased consciousness), or irritability. Older people may complain of a headache, photophobia (eye sensitivity to light), and a stiff neck, which is often noted by the doctor during a physical exam.
Symptoms of meningitis can vary depending upon the underlying cause.
In bacterial meningitis symptoms usually begin suddenly and rapidly get worse. There are some early warning signs of bacterial meningitis that you may notice before the other symptoms appear.
Early warning signs
Bacterial meningitis has a number of early warning signs that can occur earlier than the other symptoms. These are:
- pain in the muscles, joints or limbs, such as in the legs or hands
- unusually cold hands and feet, or shivering
- pale or blotchy skin and blue lips
The early symptoms of bacterial meningitis are similar to those of many other conditions, and include:
- a severe headache
- feeling generally unwell
- seizures or fits
- being unable to tolerate bright lights (photophobia) – this is less common in young children
- a stiff neck – also less common in young children
- a rapid breathing rate
- a blotchy red rash that does not fade or change colour when you place a glass against it – the rash is not always present
Meningitis in Babies and young children
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are different in babies and young children. Possible symptoms include:
- becoming floppy and unresponsive, or stiff with jerky movements
- becoming irritable and not wanting to be held
- unusual crying
- vomiting and refusing feeds
- pale and blotchy skin
- loss of appetite
- staring expression
- very sleepy with a reluctance to wake up
- Some babies will develop a swelling in the soft part of their head (fontanelle).
Most people with viral meningitis will have mild flu-like symptoms, such as:
- generally not feeling very well
In more severe cases of viral meningitis symptoms may include:
- neck stiffness
- muscle or joint pain
- photophobia (sensitivity to light)
Homeopathic Remedies & Homeopathy Treatment for Meningitis
Homeopathy treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological condition. The homeopathic medicines are selected after a full individualizing examination and case-analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient, physical and mental constitution etc. A miasmatic tendency (predisposition/susceptibility) is also often taken into account for the treatment of chronic conditions. The medicines given below indicate the therapeutic affinity but this is not a complete and definite guide to the treatment of this condition. The symptoms listed against each medicine may not be directly related to this disease because in homeopathy general symptoms and constitutional indications are also taken into account for selecting a remedy. To study any of the following remedies in more detail, please visit our Materia Medica section. None of these medicines should be taken without professional advice.
Corresponds to the initial stages, where there is intense heat of the body, strong pulse, bright red face and delirium, where the cerebral irritation is marked by intense pain in the head, starting out of sleep crying out, grinding teeth. For simple meningitis, not the tubercular form, when everything is acute and intense; when effusion commences, however, it ceases to be the remedy. Aconite. Meningitis from heat of the sun’s rays after long exposure thereto, or cerebral congestions from anger. It is only useful at the onset. Fear is a marked symptom. Veratrum viride. Intense cerebral congestion, rapid pulse, tendency to convulsion, followed by prostration. Elliot considers Veratrum viride in the lower potencies our best remedy in acute meningitis. Coldness of the surface loss of consciousness, dilated pupils, labored,slow, irregular pulse. Gelsemium. Is hardly homoeopahtic to pain as its action is wholly motor, but it may be indicated in meningitis by its general symptoms. It is less often indicated and hence less valuable than Belladonna. Yet Spalding has used the remedy as a basic one in the cerebro-spinal variety with uniform success, losing but one case.
Suits well cerebral effusions with a benumbed sensorium. The following will be useful indications upon which to prescribe Bryonia. Constant chewing motion with the mouth; when moved screams with pain; child stupid, abdomen distended; tongue white, pains are most sharp and stitching, and the patient drinks greedily; there is a livid flushed face, high temperature, copious sweats. Thus it is seen that Bryonia produces a characteristic image of meningitis and suits especially cases caused by suppressed eruption.
#Apis mellifica. [Apis]
Here nervous agitation predominates ; there are shrill cries, stabbing pains ; the child puts its hand to its head and screams. There is an oedematous face, scanty urine, and the patient is thirstless, it suits especially infantile cases and especially the tubercular form due to an developed eruption. Cicuta is useful in the irritative stage when there are general convulsions, twitching in fingers and unconsciouness. It also markedly controls the effusion. The head is spasmodically drawn back with stiff neck. Violent jerks in any part of the body. Strangles on drinking, dilated pupils and staring look, trismus; one of our best remedies, having a fine clinical record.
Mental torpor marks this drug ; a sensorial apathy, there is want of reaction. It corresponds to a later stage of the disease, when effusion has taken place ; then symptoms such as wrinkling of one arm and one leg are indicative of Helleborus. There are shooting pains in the head, sudden crying out, screaming, boring head into the pillow. The cries have a most pitiful sound. Camphora. In the fulminant variety where the poison falls on the patient like a thunderbolt and collapse approaches speedily. The patient is cold, pale and pulseless, eyes sunken, face livid. Patient cold, but does not want to be covered. Iodoform 6X has proved useful in O’Connor’s hands , and some remarkable cases were reported in the North American Journal of Homoeopathy a few years ago as having been cured by inunctions of Iodoform cerate into the scalp. Some very hopeless cases were thus cured. Dr. Martin, of Pittsburgh, used the 2X with success. It is also endorsed by Boericke and Clarke.
#Zincum metallicum. [Zinc]
This remedy corresponds to the subacute form, especially if tubercular and due to suppressed eruptions. Febrile disturbance is absent or slight, there are marked twitching jerkings and hyperaesthesia of all the senses and skin, and tremulousness of the feet. At the beginning there are sharp lancinating pains and great exhaustion of nerve force. The 6X trituration is recommended. Sulphur is useful in tubercular meningitis; the child lies in a stupor with cold sweat on forehead , jerking of limbs, spasms and suppressed urine. Retrocessed eruptions may be the cause. Tuberculinum and Calcarea carbonica may prove useful remedies. They corresponds to a basic or psoric taint which favors the development of the disease. Clarke advises Bacillinum 100th, which he claims is very prompt in its action. Cuprum suits cases marked with violent convulsions, thumbs clenched,loud screaming,face pale with blue lips. No remedy equals it in these conditions, but it is of more use in the later stages.