Brain infections and cerebritis are two related medical terms, as the latter is itself a condition characterized by inflammation of the brain which is normally caused by an infection. Recognizing the brain infection symptoms is crucial as brain infections are serious medical conditions and which require immediate medical attention.
An infection in the brain can be caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi or other parasites. The first two are however the two most common causing agents of infections in the brain. Fungi and parasites cause brain infections in more rare cases. The infection in the brain is given a particular name depending on the location of the inflammation. Thus, the most common brain infections are meningitis, encephalitis, myelitis and abscess. Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges, encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain itself and myelitis is an infection that occurs in the spinal cord. Abscesses are collections of bacteria, fungi or pus within the central nervous system.
Brain infections affect over 400 in 100,000 newborn babies or 25,000 adults each year. Commonly, the condition primary men and two thirds of the annual cases occur in children. Brain infections do not tend to cause epidemics and they are more likely to happen in late winter or early spring. The most common and serious brain infection is bacterial meningitis, which particularly affects African countries and develops into epidemics in West Africa. In 1996, 25,000 out of 250,000 cases of meningitis progressed into the death of the patients.
Bacterial meningitis is by far one of the most severe types of brain infections that can result in the death of the patient if no treatment is given in time. It is mainly caused by infection with Streptococcus pneumonia, Neisseria meningitides and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib). Anyone can develop bacterial meningitis but more at risk are infants and children and persons who had prolonged contact with patients who suffer from infections caused by powerful bacteria. Individuals who are directly exposed to discharges from the mouth of nose of infected persons have increased risks of developing such a condition. Also, individuals, with weakened immune systems, chronic alcoholics, diabetics, drug abusers and persons older than 60 years.
Other common brain infections are toxoplasmosis, cerebral cysticercoisis, Trichinosis, cerebral abscess, spinal abscess, poliomyelitis, rubella, rabies, mumps and measles and AIDS or HIV encephalitis.
The symptoms normally depend on the age of the patient, the type of infection and the severity of the disease. The brain infection symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, nausea or vomiting, confusion and sleepiness in patients older than 2 years and infants affected by the disease are usually fussy, irritable and sleepy.
Treatment is also different depending on the age of the patient and the type of infection and also how severe the condition is. Bacterial brain infection is treated with antibiotics in most cases. It is, however, treated based on how deep the tumor is located.
Brain infections and cerebritis, meaning brain inflammation, are both medical emergencies as the swelling puts pressure on the affected area of the brain and may lead to the patient’s death.