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Meningitis is a disease caused by an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain. The inflammation is usually caused by infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
There are two distinct types of meningitis, each with different causes:
Viral (caused by a virus)
Bacterial (caused by a bacterium)
Rarely, meningitis can be caused by a fungus or tuberculosis.
The following are the most common symptoms of meningitis. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Symptoms for children may also include:
It is important to note that these symptoms may not occur all at once, nor in everyone who contracts meningitis. The symptoms of meningitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for meningitis may include the following:
Specific treatment for meningitis will be determined by your health care provider based on:
Treatment may include:
While recovering from meningitis, other therapies may be used to improve healing and comfort, and provide relief from symptoms. These may include the following:
In addition, supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation (respirator) may be required if you become very ill and have difficulty breathing.
Several vaccines are currently available to prevent types of bacterial meningitis. These vaccines are recommended for infants and children. Two doses at ages 11 through 18 are also recommended.
In certain conditions, your health care provider may recommend one of the meningitis vaccines. You may need a meningitis vaccine if you have:
If you have questions regarding prevention, consult your health care provider.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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