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Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

How to Protect Your Teen or Young Adult From Meningitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that the risk of getting meningitis is increased in teens and young adults.
Meningitis is a common name for infections that take place in the membranes (called meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. An infection with meningococcal bacteria causes a serious, potentially fatal infection called meningococcal disease. It can also cause a very serious condition called sepsis (also known as blood poisoning). As deadly as meningococcal disease can be, most cases in the United States (up to 83 percent of cases in adolescents and young adults) could potentially be prevented by a single vaccination.
Another form of meningitis is caused by a virus. Viral meningitis is serious, but usually not life-threatening. Most patients with viral meningitis get better on their own in 7 to 10 days.

A person can catch meningitis by having close personal contact with a person who is sick with the disease. There are also people who can carry the bacteria in their nose and throat but never become sick. Contact with these carriers can also cause someone to become infected with meningitis.

Behaviors can put people at greater risk for getting meningitis include:

*Living in close quarters, such as college dormitories

*Being in crowded situations for prolonged periods of time

*Sharing drinking glasses, water bottles, or eating utensils


*Smoking or being exposed to smoke

*Activities that make people run-down and may weaken the immune system, such as
staying out late and having irregular sleeping patterns

You can help reduce the risk of getting meningitis by avoiding the behaviors that spread it and by getting a vaccination.

One of the things that makes meningococcal disease so potentially dangerous is that it comes on very quickly — often in a matter of hours. Many times, it seems like the flu or another common illness. Because of this, many people do not get the treatment they need until the disease has gotten much worse.

A person with meningococcal disease might not have all of these symptoms or have them all at the same time.

* Severe Headache
* High Fever
* Stiff Neck
* Nausea & vomiting
* Numbness/loss of feeling
* Light sensitivity
* Confusion
* Rash
* Seizures

Treatment is with high doses of intravenous antibiotic drugs. These are not always successful in preventing the worst that meningitis can cause – death, brain damage, loss of limbs, and more.

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