Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Meningitis

Meningitis:

Description:

Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the MENINGES. The inflammation may be caused by infection by virus, bacteria or other micro organisms and less commonly by certain drugs.

 

  • VIRAL MENINGITIS is usually a mild disease but can make people feel very unwell. Although most people make a full recovery some can be left with debilitating effects such as deafness, epilepsy and cognitive defects.

 

  • BACTERIAL MENINGITIS is life threatening and needs urgent medical attention

 

  • NEONATAL MENINGITIS occurs in babies under 1 month old

 

Meningitis can be life threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord so should be classified as a medical emergancy.

 

Signs & Symptoms:

  • High temperature or fever.
  • Violent vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Severe headache.
  • Neck stiffness.
  • Joint or muscle pains.
  • Drowsiness & Confused.
  • Disorientated.
  • Dislike of bright light (Photophobia).
  • Dislike of loud noises (Phonophbia).
  • Seizures.
  • Skin rash (small purple/re "pin prick" Rash does not fade when the side of a glass is pressed against it.

 

Sometimes, especially with small children only non specific symptoms may present such as irritability and drowsiness. If a rash is present it may indicate a particular cause eg meningococcal bacteria. This rash is characterized as a small purple "pin prick" which does not fade when the side of a glass is pressed against it.

 

A rash does not fade under pressure is a sign of meningococcal septicaemia which is a medical emergency. However if someone is ill and getting worse do not wait for the rash as it can appear later or not at all.

 

Babies:

  • Downiness, restless and high pitched crying.
  • Reluctance to feed.
  • Slight tenderness and swelling of the soft parts of the skull.

 

Treatment:

  • Call your GP, If any delay Dial 999.
  • If you think the child./baby may have meningitis , seek medical advice immediately Dial 999.

 

Diagnosis is usually made by performing a lumbar puncture which involves inserting a needle into the spinal canal to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid that envelopes the spine and brain. Depending on the type of meningitis treatment would involve antibiotics or anti viral or in some instances corticosteroids.

 

Caution:

  • DO NOT delay seeking medical help or advice.

 

 

We hope you find this article useful. This is one in an alphabetical series of articles addressing various symptoms and their first aid treatments. If you would like more information on related resuscitation and first aid training, please get in touch.

 

You might also be interested in our blog. We also love bringing you useful infomration from other organisitions. One of our favourites is this video on recognising a cardiac arrest from the Resuscitation Council.

 

You can also sign-up to our newsletter on the homepage.

 

 

First Response. Training for life. Training to save a life.

Published in First Aid
Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Epilepsy

Epilepsy:

Description:

Epileptic Seizures are caused by a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain. This results in a temporary disruption to the normal message being passed between brain calls. The message is either halted or gets mixed-up, so depending where the brain the epileptic activity begins determines how widely and rapidly it is spread.

 

For this reason there are many types of seizures and each person will experience epilepsy in a way unique to them. Seizures can often be sudden and dramatic, though some epileptic patients may experience a brief warning period (aura) for example a strange feeling, smell or taste.

 

Epilepsy is due to an underlying cause, which can be categorized into 3 main groups:

 

1: Symptomatic Epilepsy:

This is where there is a known cause as a head injury, an infection such as meningitis, a stroke or tumour and sometimes where the brain has not developed properly.

 

2: Idoepathic Epilepsy:

This is likely due to a genetic tendency that may have been inherited, or resulting from a change that happens in a person's genes before they are born.

 

3: Cryptogenic Epilepsy

This is where no cause has been despite investigations.

 

Part of the genetic tendency is called the seizure threshold: we all have a seizure threshold so any one of us has the potential to have a seizure but less so if the threshold is high. This threshold therefore plays a key role in whether someone will develop epilepsy.

 

Types of Seizures:

 

Minor: Some patients experience a mild form of epilepsy, with small seizures during which they appear distant from and unaware of their surroundings. We refer to these seizures as "absences" and patients are unlikely to have any convulsive movements.

 

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Sudden switching off.
  • Patient may stare blankly.
  • Slight occasional twitching or jerking of the lips, eyelids, head or limbs.
  • Bizarre "automatic" movements, such as lip-smacking, chewing or making noises.

 

Treatment:

  • Remove sources of danger.
  • Help guide and reassure patient.
  • Stay with them until fully alert.
  • If this has not happened to them before advise to see their GP.

 

Major Seizure: This type of seizure can happen suddenly as a result from major disturbances within the brain. This may cause the patient to fit aggressively involving the whole body

 

Signs & symptoms:

  • Aura: Patient may recognise they are about to have a seizure.
  • Tonic phase: Muscles become suddenly rigid.
  • Clonic Phase: Limbs start to make sudden, jerking, violent movements.
  • Recovery Phase: The patient's body begins to relax although patient is not fully responsive.
  • After the siezure the patient may fell tired and fall asleep.

 

Treatment:

  • Move any dangerous objects away from the patient.
  • Assist patient to floor.
  • If there are any concerns about patients airway, place them in the recovery position.
  • Record start time of seizure.
  • Call 999 if seizure last more than 3 minutes.
  • Call 999 if it is the patients first fit.

 

CAUTION:

  • Never place anything in the patients mouth.
  • Never try and restrain the patient.
  • Never try and move patient unless in extreme danger.

 

 

We hope you find this article useful. This is one in an alphabetical series of articles addressing various symptoms and their first aid treatments. If you would like more information on related resuscitation and first aid training, please get in touch.

 

You might also be interested in our blog. One of our more popular articles is about quality or quantity when it comes to first aid training.

 

You can also sign-up to our newsletter on our homepage.

 

 

First Response. Training for life. Training to save a life.

 

 

 

Published in First Aid

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