What is a differential diagnosis? Itís much like solving a puzzle. Itís a methodical medical process of elimination in order to diagnose bacterial meningitis, a disorder that requires swift diagnosis and treatment.
Common symptoms may include fever and which could account for numerous disorders as well as vomiting, and headache. These common occurrences can be dismissed easily enough as the simple flu. In a busy ER department and doctor office, sometimes the lowest common denominator becomes the diagnosis and an incorrect one at that.
The differential diagnosis of bacterial meningitis requires a medical team to work together weighing the symptoms while using appropriate testing for each age group.
For instance in adults, a rash might be present. What would cause a rash? Possibly allergic reactions to medications or allergens or poison ivy would cause a rash but itís the middle of winter and snow is on the ground and/or the patient has not ingested any unusual food or drugs. Some rashes resemble bruises. Was the patient injured?
In another instance, the patient has a stiff neck. Has the patient started an exercise program? Slept oddly? For infants and toddlers and children who are not speaking yet, a stiff neck is difficult to diagnose.
Oversensitivity to bright lights is a distinctive symptom; itís also a symptom during measles and some eye surgeries.
Seizures and confusion may be symptomatic of adverse over-the-counter and prescription drug side effects or traumatic brain injuries.
Doctors have numerous diagnostic tools at their disposal; they need to take the time to rule out the wrong diagnosis and to make the right diagnosis while recommending effective and timely treatment.