meningitis symptoms

[© Obencem |] Many cases of viral meningitis improve without treatment while bacterial cases can be life-threatening and require urgent antibiotic treatment. A sudden high fever is a common meningitis symptom.

With flu season approaching, it is important to know about meningitis, which shares many similar early symptoms with flu and can be mistaken for the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meningitis symptoms and signs of meningitis can begin to develop anywhere from several hours to several days from infection and may include:

  • sudden high fever
  • stiff neck
  • confusion
  • vomiting or nausea with headache
  • severe headache
  • seizures
  • light sensitivity

Symptoms for newborns are slightly different and include: constant crying, extreme sleeping, high fever, inactivity and lack of interest in eating.

Meningitis stems from a variety of causes, though most common are viral or bacterial. It is important to know the specific cause of the meningitis, as it determines the treatment and severity of each case, warns the CDC. Many cases of viral meningitis improve without treatment while bacterial cases can be life-threatening and require urgent antibiotic treatment.

Bacterial vs. Viral Meningitis
With bacterial meningitis, the earlier you get treatment, the better the chance of preventing serious complications. This form typically develops when bacteria enters the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal bacterial meningitis is very contagious – particularly in crowded living conditions such as dormitories or close contact situations such as sports – escalates quickly and can be deadly. That is why we immunize children at age 11 when they tend to start being exposed to these types of environments. Children who are medically or genetically at a higher risk can be vaccinated as young as two months of age. This includes those with diabetes, sickle cell disease, immune deficiency or who are of Native American descent. A booster dose is typically given in the late teens before children head off to college. Infant vaccines (PCV13 and Hib) also protect against other forms of bacterial meningitis.

Viral meningitis is a more common form, occurring as a result of a virus such as measles, mumps, enterovirus, herpes and West Nile among others. This form of meningitis is milder than bacterial and evolves more slowly.

Viral meningitis doesn’t respond to antibiotics and should resolve on its own. However, as with any disease, trust your gut. If your child is lethargic and not responsive, and/or is refusing to eat or drink, take them to their pediatrician. If they have a terrible headache, fever and neck pain – especially down the middle of the neck – go to the emergency room.

Lindsay Fitch, M.D., is a pediatrician with Klebanow & Associates in Columbia. Call for an appointment, 410-997-6400.

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Monday, August 31, 10:30 a.m.calendar_2015_blog & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950. 10:30 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download | 11:15 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download

Thursday, Sept. 3, 7 to 9 p.m., $15. Pre-Diabetes: our certified diabetes educator will teach you how to make changes to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes in this class held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

Monday, Sept. 21, 6:30-8 p.m. Free. Healthy Eating on the Go! A discussion on eating healthy in a fast-paced world. Learn how the new food label can help you make better choices when dining out and how to prepare healthy lunches for $5 a day. The seminar is in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

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living well online

We need new vocabulary. We require more extensive terminology for social media friends and electronic interactions. My kids do not know a world where social media friends did not exist, but still, they seem to know that there is a difference between a Facebook friend and a friend who knows your heart. Depending on your personality and social comfort zones, however, it might not be so easy to know the difference. My kids enjoy interacting with people in person, talking with them, hanging out with them, so they know that an internet-based relationship is not the same. On some level, they know that an Instagram follower you see pictures of or posts from almost every day is a different relationship from someone you only see once a year but with whom you’ve shared a summer at camp or a year in high school precalculus. Your classmate moved away and you’ve kept in touch with her ever since. You don’t hear from her every day on your smart phone, but you feel close to her anyway. In the most basic terms, children with human interpersonal relationships know not to confuse quantity with quality. Still, the blur of daily digital bombardment can confuse one’s emotions. A Snapchat community may feel more real than your favorite school group. A stranger’s Snapchat story may be more engaging than the cafeteria conversations you shared with classmates.

For me, who has spent the greater percentage of her life to date without social media friends, the concepts demand further definition. Is Jimmy Fallon my friend because I follow his daily tweets from The Tonight Show? Of course he isn’t, but I have access to his ideas 24/7 as long as I have an internet connection. On the other hand, my human friends may be out of town or at work or offline (perish the thought). I find myself wondering, do I know that fact or have that opinion because I exchanged ideas with another person or because I had a frequent electronic interaction with a particular point of view? Did I hash out a social argument or did I just absorb it, become saturated with it, through posts on Facebook by people I don’t even know, people who have their privacy settings set to “public” or “friends of friends.” Friends, facts, opinions vs. eFriends, eFacts, ePinions.

safe social networkingA reason for new words is to provide us with a common language. Each individual’s use of terminology helps us understand whether that person has a healthy understanding of social media interactions. A person who cannot clearly distinguish between a social media friend and a human interaction friend might not use the terms correctly or precisely. This would help us recognize, for example, if a child was having an online relationship with someone they had never met, someone whom they really didn’t know. It would be a clue that your widowed father wasn’t getting out much and had become isolated in an online world where he no longer shared human laughter and had become quite lonely. Alternatively, it would be a way to talk about relationships with a highly introverted coworker who seeks help developing vital personal interactions and bridging a gap to emotional fulfillment.

As we evolve as an eSpecies, the percentage of time we spend in electronic versus human interaction will change. These interactions affect our personalities, our relationships, our cultures, our societies. Let’s grow our language to encompass these different worlds and empower us to differentiate between them.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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I have decided to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer to honor my grandfather, Angelo Incorvia Jr. who fought lung cancer for several years.

My grandfather was part of the highly respected Greatest Generation. Similar to many of his generation, he honorably served his country in World War II. He was so compelled to enlist that he found a creative way to circumvent the minimum age requirement and hearing screening to gain acceptance in the Army and ultimately served for three years in Europe.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have had such a close relationship with my grandfather. He was an integral part of my childhood and as a young adult I considered him my best friend. My fondest memories were Sunday dinners at his home, which consisted of an over-the-top Italian meal cooked by my grandmother and sitting on his front porch listening to his war stories. My grandfather was extremely modest, generous, had a great sense of humor and always seemed to know when someone needed a little extra love and attention. He had a profound impact on my personal development and I always strive to lead my life in a way that would make him proud.

ride to conquer cancer

Ryan Brown, VP of Operations at Howard County General Hospital, is biking in the 150-mile Ride to Conquer Cancer next month in honor of his grandfather Angelo Incorvia, Jr. (above), a World War II veteran and integral part of Ryan’s childhood. Click here to support Ryan and Ride to Conquer Cancer, which benefits Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Howard County General Hospital.

Family was most important to my grandfather, which was evident by the fact that his home was always full with children, siblings, cousins and friends. It was a meeting place for all and so many joyous holidays were celebrated under his roof. Later in life my grandfather grew quite fond of gardening and, in particular, his coveted tomatoes. Every time I enjoy a tomato I smile and think of him.

It was extremely difficult to watch someone I idolized develop cancer. My grandfather fought cancer for several years and, unfortunately, it metastasized and he lost his battle on May 5, 2004. The entire time he battled cancer he always found opportunities to introduce a little humor into situations to lighten everyone’s spirits. Typical of my grandfather – placing everyone’s feelings above his.

A 150-mile bike ride is certainly an overwhelming endeavor. However, I jumped at the opportunity to participate to honor my grandfather and raise funds that may help reach a cure for this disease.

Ryan Brown is vice president of Operations at Howard County General Hospital (HCGH). He and hospital President Steve Snelgrove are leading HCGH’s team in the two-day, 150-mile Ride to Conquer Cancer, a bike ride benefiting the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and HCGH.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, August 24, 11:00 a.m. My Friend the Firefighter at Miller Branch. Meet local firefighters and see a fire truck. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, August 26, 7:00 p.m. Food for Thought Book Discussion on Pam Anderson at Glenwood Branch. Borrow a cookbook from HCLS by the chef of the evening, prepare a few recipes at home, then discuss your experiences. Refreshments. Register online or by calling 410-313-5577.

Thursday, August 27, 7:00 p.m. 75 Years Ago…A Year in the Life of a Howard County Resident at Miller Branch. Take a stroll back in time to 1940 when Howard County boasted about 500 farms, Rt. 29 was a country lane, and Howard County Library System first opened its doors. Learn about our community’s past with vivid pictures and descriptions presented by John and Virginia Frank, directors of the Living Farm Heritage Museum. In partnership with Living Farm Heritage Museum and Howard County Historical Society. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

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how to stop worryingModern life is riddled with many problems and situations involving SWAT. This is a constant, perennial, and vexing by-product of our current lifestyles. As such, SWAT, in one form or another, follows us like a shadow, everywhere. They rob us of the sense of freedom and enjoyment we should experience from living our everyday lives.

Stress is caused by feelings of anxiety, tension, and worry about situations (or unpleasant experiences) that are happening to us. They cause a great deal of psychological and emotional distress and pain. Often, this manifests itself in the form of a sense of helplessness and lack of control. Their effects are pernicious on both body and mind: constant irritability, physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation, inability to concentrate and to deal with the various tasks at hand that need our attention. Consequently, time, energy, and money are often wasted in unproductive ways to combat SWAT. Some seek quick relief for their distress, in remedies such as: drugs, alcohol, smoking, binge eating, and compulsive shopping—all of which only compounds the problem, without solving the underlying root causes.

Of course, there are other cheaper and more sensible short-term remedies:

(1) Take a walk; (2) Listen to music; (3) Enjoy nature (smell the flowers); (4) Try to feel grateful for what you have; (5) Read a good book such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

Ask yourself, “Is the SWAT caused by some self-imposed, misguided values and beliefs which trip you into doing things and engage in activities causing more harm than good?”

Common SWAT Situations:

1. I have no time! Many Time-starved modern families find themselves too busy, trying to do too many tasks, which cannot all be completed within a certain time period– (day, week, or month). Are all of them really necessary? Do they all make sense? Will these activities/choices help to improve your ultimate Quality of Life? If the answers to these questions are mostly negative, then, you should Prioritize these tasks. Give up what is really not important for your long-term wellbeing. Concentrate on a few, and let the others go. “Don’t bite more than you can chew”. Or, as Thoreau advised: “Simplify, Simplify”.

2. I don’t have the money. Are you spending too much? Are you unable to meet your multiple financial obligations? Finding too many bills in the mailbox? Then, look for possible solutions such as: (a) Cut your spending as much as possible immediately; (b) Sell some assets (stuff) and pay off your debts carrying high interest rates; (c) Increase your income temporarily by working overtime/2nd job; (d) Try to re-arrange (stretch) your monthly payments by investigating cheaper, more affordable loans (refinancing); (e) Find out if someone (friends/family/employer) can help you out a bit; (f) Downsize your dwelling/car/association memberships/subscriptions/gifts/donations, etc. (f) Look for other ‘creative’ solutions to increase cash ‘inflows’ and reduce ‘outflows’—depending on your situation.

3. I can’t let go. Don’t try to win every game, all the time. Remember: “It is the journey that is important; not the destination– (or winning)”. Sticking to this wise counsel can save your sanity, and free yourself from many unhappy, hopeless situations/goals, such as—climbing the proverbial “Corporate ladder”, trying to win every argument; getting ahead of others in sports/competitions, building wealth, and various aspects of getting ahead “in the game of life”.

4. I can’t deal. Bend, not break- trying to change others—their habits, values, political and religious beliefs, attitudes and expectations—generally don’t work. Other people are just as fastidious as you are. It is far more sensible and productive to change yourself, before trying to change others. This is within your control, and therefore, doable. It is up to you to try.

5. I’m not happy. Contentment. Enjoy what you have, right now; and don’t fret over the future too much. Have realistic goals. Keep striving, while practicing self-control, with discipline and determination. This will improve your physical and mental health.

6. I have nothing to offer. Finally, try generosity. Share, care and help those who are less fortunate. Provide physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual comfort, to ease their burdens, in whatever way you can. This can be a great ‘stress reliever’, helping you, while helping others as well.

Dr. Gopal C. Dorai is an author, economist, statistician, and Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University.

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pain relievers

Acetaminophen or aspirin are safer alternatives to manage pain than relying on ones like ibuprofen and naproxen, which can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. [© Monkey Business Images |]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced it is “strengthening an existing label warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)­—including ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, and celecoxib as well as others—increase the chance of heart attack or stroke. The risk of heart attack and stroke with NSAIDs, both of which can lead to death, was first described in 2005 in the Boxed Warning and Warnings and Precautions sections of prescription drug labels.”

We knew that long-term use of NSAIDs increased the risk of heart disease and stroke, but this new study discovered that short-term use could also pose a significant threat. This warning is especially important for high-risk groups that include males over age 50, females over age 60 and those who have high-risk factors of developing coronary artery disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking or obesity.

For my patients with diagnosed coronary artery disease, a stent, history of a heart attack or bypass surgery who are suffering from a headache, arthritis or backache, I recommend that they take NSAIDs for no more than a few days. If you are a high-risk cardiac patient, but have not had a cardiac event, you can take NSAIDs for a few weeks but no longer.

If you want to avoid the risks associated with NSAIDs, Tylenol (acetaminophen) or aspirin are safer alternatives to manage pain. If you have concerns, you should call your doctor to discuss your risk of taking NSAIDs versus the benefit they may have in treating your pain.

If you are taking NSAIDs and experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or side of your body or slurred speech, call 911.


According to the FDA, new prescription NSAID labels will be revised to reflect the following information:

  • The risk of heart attack or stroke can occur as early as the first weeks of using an NSAID.
  • The risk may increase with longer use of the NSAID. The risk appears greater at higher doses.
  • It was previously thought that all NSAIDs may have a similar risk. Newer information makes it less clear that the risk for heart attack or stroke is similar for all NSAIDs; however, this newer information is not sufficient for us to determine that the risk of any particular NSAID is definitely higher or lower than that of any other particular NSAID.
  • NSAIDs can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in patients with or without heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. A large number of studies support this finding, with varying estimates of how much the risk is increased, depending on the drugs and the doses studied.
  • In general, patients with heart disease or risk factors for it have a greater likelihood of heart attack or stroke following NSAID use than patients without these risk factors because they have a higher risk at baseline.
  • Patients treated with NSAIDs following a first heart attack were more likely to die in the first year after the heart attack compared to patients who were not treated with NSAIDs after their first heart attack.
  • There is an increased risk of heart failure with NSAID use.
Keith Freidman, M.D., is a cardiologist with Cardiovascular Specialists of Central Maryland in Columbia.

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