Maybe you have been wondering if you can get meningitis from a tooth infection? In this article, we will try to Xray the possibilities of getting meningitis from a tooth infection.
But first, we have to understand what meningitis really is.
What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord.
The swelling of meningitis usually triggers symptoms such as headache, fever, and stiff neck.
In the United States, most cases of meningitis are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections are other causes. Some cases of meningitis become better without treatment in a few weeks. Others can be life-threatening and require emergency treatment.
However, seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a person with meningitis. Early treatment of bacterial meningitis can prevent serious health complications.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Early meningitis symptoms may resemble the flu (influenza). Symptoms may develop over many hours or over a few days.
Possible signs and symptoms in anyone over the age of 2 includes:
- Sudden high fever
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache that seems different than normal
- Headache with nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Sleepiness or difficulty waking
- Sensitivity to light
- No appetite or thirst
- Skin rash (sometimes, such as in meningococcal meningitis)
Signs in Newborns
Newborns and infants may show these signs:
- High fever
- Constant crying
- Excessive sleepiness or irritability
- Inactivity or sluggishness
- Poor feeding
- A swelling in the soft spot on top of a baby’s head (fontanel)
- Stiffness in a baby’s body and neck
Babies with meningitis may be challenging to comfort, and may even cry harder when held.
Causes of Meningitis
Bacteria that enter the brain and spinal cord through the bloodstream cause acute bacterial meningitis. But this can also happen when the bacteria directly invade the meninges. This can be caused by an ear infection, skull fracture or, rarely, after certain surgical procedures.
Several strains of bacteria can cause bacterial meningitis, most often:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). This bacterium is the most frequent cause of bacterial meningitis in babies, young children, and adults in the United States. Furthermore, it is more common to cause pneumonia or ear infections. A vaccine can help prevent this infection.
- Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus). This bacterium is another significant cause of bacterial meningitis. These bacteria usually cause an infection of the upper respiratory tract but can cause meningococcal meningitis when they enter the bloodstream. It is a highly contagious infection that mainly affects teenagers and young adults. It can cause local epidemics in university residences, boarding schools, and military bases. Also, a vaccine can help prevent infection.
- Haemophilus influenzae (haemophilus). The bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was once the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children. But the new Hib vaccines have dramatically reduced the number of cases of this type of meningitis.
- Listeria monocytogenes (listeria). These bacteria are found in unpasteurized cheeses, hot dogs and cold cuts. However, pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are very likely to have meningitis through this way. Listeria can cross the placental barrier and can be deadly for the baby.
Viral meningitis is usually benign and often goes away on its own. In the United States, most cases are caused by a group of known enteroviruses, which are more common in late summer and early fall. Viruses such as herpes simplex virus, HIV, mumps, West Nile virus and others can cause viral meningitis.
Slow growth organisms (such as fungi and Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that invade membranes and fluids surrounding the brain cause chronic meningitis. Chronic meningitis develops for two weeks or more. In addition, the signs and symptoms of chronic meningitis (headache, fever, vomiting and mental turbidity) are similar to those of acute meningitis.
Fungal meningitis is relatively rare and causes chronic meningitis. It can mimic bacterial meningitis. Fungal meningitis is not contagious from one person to another. Cryptococcal meningitis is a common form of the disease that affects people who are immunodeficient, such as AIDS. It is lethal if not treated with antifungal medication.
Other causes of meningitis
Meningitis can also be the result of non-infectious causes, such as chemical reactions, drug allergies, certain types of cancer and inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis.
Risk factors for meningitis include:
- Skipping the Vaccinations: The risk increases for anyone who has not completed the recommended immunization program for children or adults.
- Age: Most cases of viral meningitis occur in children under 5 years of age. Also, bacterial meningitis is common in people under 20 years of age.
- Live in a community setting: University students living in dormitories, military base personnel, and boarding and daycare children are at increased risk of meningococcal meningitis. This is probably due to the spread of bacteria in the airways and their rapid spread across large groups.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy increases the chance of listeriosis, a disease caused by listeria bacteria, which can also cause meningitis. Listeriosis increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, fetal death, and premature labor.
- Jeopardized immune system: AIDS, alcoholism, diabetes, immunosuppressive drugs and other factors that affect your immune system also make you more receptive to meningitis.
The complications of meningitis can be serious. The longer you or your child stays with meningitis without treatment the higher the risks of seizures and permanent brain damage including;
- Hearing loss
- Memory problems
- Learning problems
- Brain damage
- Walking problems
- Renal failure
With early treatment, even patients with severe meningitis can recover properly.
Having talked a little about meningitis, Let us now try to answer the question, “can one get meningitis from a tooth infection?”
Can One Get Meningitis From A Tooth Infection?
In a study report, a 46-year-old man was confirmed to have gotten bacterial meningitis from a tooth infection.
In the article, it was stated that Odontogenic infections rarely spread intracranially to cause complications such as thrombosis of the cavernous sinuses, abscess or meningitis. The literature reports a case of chronic meningitis in a patient with multiple tooth infection.
In another report, a woman who had a tooth extraction came back to complain to her doctor about the pains she felt. It was discovered that she had contracted bacterial meningitis.
Furthermore, the study affirmed that bacterial meningitis is a rare but seriously threatening systemic complication of tooth extraction that requires an immediate response. Antibiotic treatment is important.
In addition, unexpected serious complications can be indicative of an undiagnosed underlying condition.
When to See a Doctor
Go for instant medical care if you or someone in your family has meningitis symptoms, such as:
- Severe, unrelenting headache
- Stiff neck
Bacterial meningitis is dangerous and can be lethal within days without immediate antibiotic treatment. Postponed treatment raises the risk of permanent brain injury or death.
It’s also necessary to talk to your doctor if a family member or someone you work with has meningitis. You may need to take medicines to prevent catching the infection.
Summary and Recommendation
Yes, it is true that you can get meningitis from a tooth infection. However, it can still be prevented. You can follow these simple steps to prevent meningitis either from a tooth infection or from other means.
Careful handwashing helps prevent the spread of germs. Teach children how to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating and using the toilet, spending time in a crowded area, or petting animals.
Also, do not share drinks, food, straws, cooking utensils, lip balms or toothbrushes with anyone else. Teach children and teens to avoid sharing these items too.
Furthermore, keep your immune system well-rested, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Additionally, when you need to sneeze or cough, be sure to cover your mouth and nose.
Finally, some forms of bacterial meningitis can be prevented with vaccines like Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccinia (PPSV23) and Meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
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Just Health Care Tips.