Meningitis. The word itself is enough to send shivers down the spine of new parents. Thing is, contrary to popular belief, meningitis also affects adults. But the myths surrounding it make it harder to detect it in adults, and so more often than not, the diagnosis is done in the last stages.
So what is meningitis?
Meningitis is basically the inflammation of the meninges or the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. A relatively rare disease, it does affect a significant number of Indians. Meningitis has also been found to affect the lungs, in which case it is called TB meningitis.
Meningitis can be caused by any of these- bacteria, viruses and fungi, with the latter two also causing the more serious chronic meningitis. The symptoms can show themselves anytime from a few hours to a few weeks after the patient contracts it.
The symptoms differ significantly for babies and adults. New-borns usually display the following symptoms: high fever accompanied by constant crying, lack of energy leading to excessive drowsiness, bulging in the soft spots of the head, called fontanelle, and uncharacteristic stiffness of the neck and/or the body.
For adults, the symptoms generally are sudden and rapid increase in body temperature, severe pain in the head accompanied with nausea and vomiting, fatigue, sudden onset of rashes, stiffness in neck, inability to carry out normal activities due to loss of concentration and confusion, extreme photosensitivity, and seizures in more serious cases.
Even if meningitis is treated, it often leaves behind permanent scars in the form of loss of sensory powers like vision and hearing, shock and cognitive disorders. It can sooner or later cause kidney failure. Death is, of course, the last bit that happens, but is unpleasantly common. People with compromised immune systems due to skipped vaccinations, recent diseases, pregnancy are especially susceptible to meningitis, apart from infants and young adults.
So how do we treat meningitis? Unfortunately, for the average Indian, once contracted, meningitis becomes extremely difficult to treat, though of course there are many success stories in spite of that. Unhygienic conditions combined with poor infrastructure in public health institutions do nothing to help the patients. Neither does the extreme cost involved in treating patients in private hospitals- those admitted in such places need anything from 30,000-50,000 rupees daily on an average, and recovery from meningitis is a very lengthy procedure.
So what can be done in such cases? Of course, crowdfunding. Meningitis is an extreme emergency, and the crowdfunding platforms in India have the biggest success with medical emergency campaigns. Make sure to visit the most prominent crowdfunding websites for the best visibility. Set up your fundraiser for your loved one with the proper documents and a credible story for people to understand the pain the patient is in. In addition to donation-based crowdfunding, you can also go for peer to peer crowdfunding and set up fundraising events in big cities if the patient’s condition allows such an initiative. With help just a click away, minimal platform fees, and support teams ready to guide you through every bit whenever you need help, you are not alone in your fight.