Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord.

The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck.

Most cases of meningitis in the United States are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections are other causes. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment in a few weeks. Others can be life-threatening and require emergency antibiotic treatment.

Seek immediate medical care if you suspect that someone has meningitis. Early treatment of bacterial meningitis can prevent serious complications.

Symptoms

  • Sudden high fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Severe headache that seems different than normal
  • Headache with nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness or difficulty waking
  • Sensitivity to light
  • No appetite or thirst
  • Skin rash

Treatment of mild cases of viral meningitis usually includes:

  • Bed rest
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Over-the-counter pain medications to help reduce fever and relieve body aches
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