Spinal meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of fluid and tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Spinal meningitis is the inflammation of tissues, called meninges, that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. This condition usually stems from an infection and leads to symptoms such as a stiff neck, fever, and severe headache. There are
Spinal meningitis is the inflammation of tissues, called meninges, that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. This condition usually stems from an infection and leads to symptoms such as a stiff neck, fever, and severe headache. There are vaccines to prevent some types of spinal meningitis.
In some cases, spinal meningitis can resolve on its own. However, it can also be life-threatening and require antibiotics, hospitalization, or other medical treatment.
This article reviews spinal meningitis, including the different types, symptoms, causes, diagnoses, and treatments.
The most common type of spinal meningitis is viral meningitis. Other types are bacterial, parasitic, fungal, amoebic, and noninfectious.
A virus causes the most common type of meningitis. Most people who get viral meningitis recover on their own without treatment within seven to 10 days.
Bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria. It is the most deadly form.
After infection, death can occur rapidly, sometimes as quickly as just a few hours. Those who recover may have residual disabilities, including brain damage, learning disabilities, or hearing loss.
Parasitic meningitis is much less common than viral or bacterial meningitis. It more commonly affects animals than people. In humans, it usually is caused by eating contaminated food or an infected animal.
The inhalation of fungal spores causes fungal meningitis. Treatment involves antifungal medications. People with compromised immune systems are at greater risk. However, fungal meningitis is very rare.
Amoebic meningitis is a rare brain infection that is almost always fatal. There are usually fewer than eight cases per year in the United States. This type is caused by a specific kind of amoeba (a single-celled organism) that travels into the nose while swimming.
Noninfectious meningitis can result from medical conditions such as cancer, the autoimmune disease lupus, or brain injuries. It causes inflammation that is not infectious.
It's impossible to know what type of meningitis someone has without diagnostic testing. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you or a loved one is experiencing any spinal meningitis symptoms.
Symptoms of spinal meningitis may include:
Additional symptoms that may be seen in babies and small children include:
There are many different causes of spinal meningitis, depending on the type.
Diagnosing spinal meningitis usually starts with a physical exam in which your healthcare provider will collect a medical history and ask about your symptoms.
Other diagnostic tests may include:
Diagnostic imaging of the brain and spine is also used to diagnose meningitis, and can include:
Treatment options depend on the type of meningitis.
Bacterial meningitis requires starting antibiotics as soon as possible. There are also vaccines available to prevent you from getting bacterial meningitis.
Those with viral meningitis, the most common type, usually recover without treatment within one to two weeks. Pain management therapies are often used to manage headache symptoms. Antibiotics do not help with a viral infection.
Treatment for fungal meningitis requires antifungal medications.
There are no specific treatments for parasitic meningitis. Pain medications and medication to reduce the body's reaction to the parasites are sometimes used.
There are a few medications to treat amoebic meningitis. However, almost all infections are still fatal, and it is unclear if the drugs are effective as there are so few cases every year.
When someone with meningitis becomes severely ill or are at risk for developing severe illness, a hospital stay is often essential to prevent additional complications.
The prognosis for most people who get meningitis is positive. However, it is very dependent on the type of meningitis someone has. Early treatment is the best way to ensure a good prognosis.
For example, bacterial meningitis can be deadly within days after the start of symptoms. Without antibiotic treatment, the prognosis is fatal. In addition, delayed treatment increases the risk of permanent brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities.
The rarest type, amoebic meningitis, is usually fatal even with treatment. Fortunately, very few people get this type of meningitis.
Spinal meningitis is inflammation of the brain and spinal cord due to an infection. Types of meningitis include viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic, amoebic, and noninfectious. Symptoms typically include headache, fever, and neck stiffness.
Treatment depends on the type of meningitis but can include antibiotics, pain relievers, or hospitalization. Sometimes meningitis can resolve on its own.
Spinal meningitis can be a scary and uncomfortable condition to have, and you may find yourself nervous about how and when you will recover. Remember that early treatment is essential. If you or a loved one starts exhibiting symptoms of meningitis, such as a stiff neck, fever, and headache, contact your healthcare provider right away.