If not treated right away, meningitis can become very serious. It may result in irreversible brain or nerve damage and potentially fatal blood poisoning (sepsis).
Symptoms of meningitis
Signs of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:
- Sudden high fever
- Severe headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or trouble concentrating
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of appetite
- Skin rash
- Drowsiness or unresponsiveness
These symptoms can appear in any order.
A bacterial or viral infection is frequently the cause of meningitis. More common is viral meningitis, but bacterial meningitis is more dangerous.
Meningitis-causing infections can spread through:
Individuals who are healthy but have these viruses or bacteria in their nose or throat can transmit meningitis.
People with meningitis usually have tests to ensure the diagnosis and check whether the condition results from a viral or bacterial infection.
Treatments can include:
- Antibiotics injected directly into a vein
- Fluids directly into a vein
- Oxygen by a face mask
Viral meningitis gets better within seven to ten days.
Coughing, sneezing, kissing, sharing cigarettes, eating utensils, toothbrushes, or other objects can spread common bacteria or viruses that can cause meningitis.
These steps can help prevent meningitis:
- Wash your hands
- Practice good hygiene. Avoid giving anyone else your toothbrush, lip balm, straws, food, or any of your other consumables
- Stay healthy. Maintain your immune system by getting enough sleep, working out frequently, and eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains
- If you’re pregnant, keep your food habits in check.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD
Page last reviewed: 04 October 2022