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Neurological Infections

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Neurological infections encompass a large variety of conditions that invade and affect the nervous system. Despite advances in therapy and the development of early detection techniques, many of these conditions can cause severe, chronic and even life threatening problems for those affected by them.

Several factors contribute to the widespread incidence of neurological infections, such as:

  • The rising number of people infected with HIV/AIDS who are susceptible to neurological infection due to impaired immunity.
  • The increasing use of immnosuppressant medications such as anti-cancer drugs that leave people vulnerable to neurological infection.
  • Several viral infections of the central nervous system have emerged that are not yet amenable to available treatment.
  • The geographical spread of neurological infections is increased through people’s frequent travelling and movement between regions.

Symptoms

Various different organisms can target the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves, with bacteria, viruses and fungi all causing different symptoms. However, the characteristic signs of infection that may be present include:

  • Fever
  • Pain or redness at the site of infection
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Types of neurological infection

The most common forms of neurological infection include:

  • Meningitis – This refers to inflammation of the meninges, membranes which cover the brain and spinal cord. The infection may be bacterial or viral.
  • Ventriculitis – This describes extension of the infection to the ventricles of the brain.
  • Encephalitis – A general term for infection or inflammation of the brain, which may be caused by either bacteria or a virus.
  • Meningoencephalitis – Simultaneous infection of the meninges and the brain.
  • Myelitis – This term describes infection that involves the spinal cord.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: Apr 23, 2014

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