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Meningitis is a disease caused by an inflammation of the meninges. These are the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is usually caused by infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
There are 2 types of meningitis, each with different causes:
Viral (caused by a virus)
Bacterial (caused by a bacterium)
Rarely, a fungus or tuberculosis causes meningitis.
These are the most common symptoms of meningitis:
Symptoms for children may include:
These symptoms may not occur all at once. And, not everyone who gets meningitis will have all of these symptoms. The symptoms of meningitis may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Along with a complete medical history and physical exam, your doctor may do one or more of the following tests:
Treatment may include:
While recovering from meningitis, other therapies may be used to improve healing and relieve symptoms. These may include:
Supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation (respirator) may be needed if you become very ill and have trouble breathing.
Several vaccines are 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 healthcare provider may recommend one of the meningitis vaccines. You may need a meningitis vaccine if you have:
If you have questions about prevention, see your healthcare provider.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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