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Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
The most common causes of meningitis are viral infections that usually get better without treatment, however bacterial meningitis infections are extremely serious, and may result in death or brain damage, even if treated. Most viral meningitis is due to enteroviruses, which are viruses that also can cause intestinal illness.
Viral meningitis can be caused by herpes viruses, the same virus that can cause cold sores and genital herpes, people with cold sores or genital herpes, however, are not at a greater risk of developing herpes meningitis.
More recently, West Nile virus, spread by mosquito bites, has become a cause of viral meningitis in most of the United States. You cannot tell if you have bacterial or viral meningitis by how you feel, your healthcare provider must perform diagnostic tests. Disclaimer: All content on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation.
Meningitis is a condition characterized by the swelling of the meninges that are membranes enclosing the spinal cord and brain. It is important to seek emergency medical care whenever an individual experiences the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
Infants and newborns may not experience the hallmark symptoms of meningitis like a stiff neck and headache.
Enteroviral infections commonly lead to development of symptoms such as sore throat, a meningitis rash, joint aches, diarrhea, and headaches.
The migration of bacteria to the spinal cord and brain, from other parts of the body can cause acute bacterial meningitis. The primary cause of bacterial meningitis in America amongst young children, infants, and adults is the Streptococcus pneumonia bacterium.
Haemophilus influenza type b or Hib bacterium was the main cause of bacterial meningitis in children before the 1990s. Neisseria meningitides causes meningococcal meningitis which features a characteristic rash.


This rare form of meningitis occurs due to invasion of the brain-surrounding fluid and membranes by slow-developing organisms.
Meningitis may also be caused due to inflammatory conditions like lupus, certain kinds of cancer, drug allergies, and other non-infectious causes. Bacterial meningitis: It is treated via intravenous use of antibiotics or a combination of different antibiotics.
Viral meningitis: It generally tends to fade away on its own within a couple of weeks without any treatment. It usually occurs in late summer and early fall and most often affects children and adults under the age of 30. You may also get dexamethasone, a type of steroid medicine, and you will be observed carefully to prevent serious problems such as hearing loss, seizures, and brain damage. Use of this website and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship.
The symptoms may appear over many hours, or over a couple of days and typically affect people over 2 years old.
Bacterial causes are very dangerous and hence require immediate medical diagnosis and treatment.
It can also be caused due to direct bacterial invasion of the meninges due to a skull fracture, or a sinus or ear infection. The doctor may suggest bed rest, intake of lots of fluids, and certain non-prescription drugs to alleviate the accompanying fever and pain. Anti-fungal meningitis medications can cause harmful side effects, and hence its administration is postponed till the cause is determined.
Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash with neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights, and confusion. If they think you have meningitis, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be done to remove a sample of spinal fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) for testing.
Viral meningitis is more common, and most people with this form of the illness get better in about 2 weeks.


Always consult with your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others. The accompanying swelling usually leads to development of characteristic symptoms such as fever, headache, stiffness of neck, and meningitis rash in people over two years old. Subject to the cause of infection, meningitis may disappear on its own after about two weeks, or it may result in fatal consequences. About thirty percent of viral meningitis cases in America are caused due infection by enteroviruses, while the causal virus of most remain unidentified. Viral meningitis can also be caused due to infection by La Crosse virus, herpes simplex virus, West Nile virus, and others. A common fungal type is cryptococcal meningitis which usually affects people with weakened immune systems. Viral meningitis caused due to herpes virus infection may be treated with anti-viral drugs. Meningitis caused due to autoimmune diseases or an allergic reaction may be treated with the use of cortisone-like medicines.
However, it poses great risk to newborns, individuals with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and the elderly.
Accompanying symptoms like seizures, shock, or dehydration may need additional treatment.It is also possible to prevent certain kinds of bacterial meningitis via vaccinations.
The germs that cause it can be passed from one person to another through coughing and sneezing and through close contact. Home treatment includes taking medicine for fever and pain, and drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated.
Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by the same germs and is the more life-threatening form of the disease.



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