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Meningitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Cost

Last Updated: Mar 10, 2023

What is Meningitis?

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Meningitis inflamates the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. There are a vast variety of methods through which it can happen, but bacterial and viral are the most prominent ones.. Fever, headache, stiff neck, and a rash are some common symptoms. A prompt response can save you from Meningitis, especially antibiotics. The instant checkup can help you curb all the problems related to the disease.

Types of Meningitis

Viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis are amongst the top two types of Meningitis, wherein Viral meningitis is common. Viral is not as fatal as bacterial and can be treated on its own in some time.

An unprompted solution of Bacterial meningitis can be fatal as it is more serious. Different types of bacteria can cause bacterial meningitis. It includes Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria meningitis.

Antibiotics can treat Bacterial meningitis. Other types of meningitis include fungal meningitis, which is caused by a fungus, and non-infectious meningitis, which can be caused by cancer, medications, or other non-infectious factors.

What causes Meningitis?

The disease either viral or bacterial, is caused by an infection. Some common causes of meningitis include:

  • Viral infections: Many different viruses can cause meningitis, including the viruses that cause the common cold, the flu, and chickenpox.
  • Bacterial infections: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzea, and Neisseria meningitis are amongst some of the bacterias that cause this disease to take a toll on your health.
  • Fungal infections: Fungal meningitis is rare, but it can occur in people with compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS or people who are taking certain medications that suppress the immune system.
  • Non-infectious causes: Meningitis can also be caused by non-infectious factors, such as cancer, certain medications, or other underlying medical conditions. Close contact or living in the same house or using the same respiratory system can also lead to Meningitis.
  • It is important to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, to help prevent the spread of meningitis.

What are the symptoms of Meningitis?

The symptoms of meningitis can vary, but common ones include:

Symptoms of meningitis can appear suddenly and may get worse quickly. Medical attention is advised in such a situation to anyone facing any health issues or symptoms.

It is important to note that some people, particularly those with a weak immune system or very young children, may not have classic symptoms of meningitis. They may only have non-specific symptoms, such as a fever or a general feeling of being unwell. Consult a healthcare provider.


What are the Risk Factors of Meningitis?

Several factors increase the risk of developing meningitis, including:

  • Age: Age is a factor for all as it can impact whether you have meningitis or not. While it can happen to young children and adolescence, it can also impact people of other age groups.
  • Weakened immune system: If you know of someone or have HIV/AIDS then you are probably going to have a weak immune system and that gives the disease the opportunity to hamper your health.
  • Certain medical conditions: Sickle cell anemia or spleen dysfunction patients are at risk. They may attract disease more often and quickly than others.
  • Close contact with infected individuals: As Saliva and Mucus are a part of the disease, any contact with an infected person of this disease can cause Meningitis.
  • Travel to certain areas: Africa is at high risk of Meningitis, so if you are a frequent traveler to the location then you may contract Meningitis.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke: People who are exposed to tobacco smoke, either as a smoker or as a non-smoker living with a smoker, are at increased risk for meningitis.

It is important to note that not everyone with these risk factors will develop meningitis, and that meningitis can occur in people without any known risk factors. Medical assistance can be of help to those who are at risk or have contracted the disease.

How can you prevent Meningitis?

The disease impacts the brain and the spinal cord and if you have any thoughts that this maybe the case then you are advised to do the appended to prevent bacterial meningitis:

  • Vaccinate Yourself: Vaccines are the easiest and the smartest way to keep yourself safe in any situation.
  • Hygiene: Washing your hands is a habit that we have been told about in the past and sharing is caring, but sharing is not allowed when you have meningitis.
  • Avoid contact: Respiration is one of the major factors that governs this disease, and so you must avoid contact with anyone as it can be transmitted through it too.
  • Not Smoking: Smoking is not a good idea in any way. You shouldn’t smoke as it’s not feasible for health and for people suffering from this disease.
  • Health Checkup: Check your health if you have any problems in your immunity level. It’s possible that you may be at the risk of getting this disease. Avoid any disease by doing regular health checkups.

There is no specific way to prevent viral meningitis, but you can reduce your risk by practicing good hygiene and avoiding close contact with infected people.


Meningitis may seem simple, but it’s a life-threatening disease and the impact of the disease can be fatal in many ways. It is therefore important to seek advice with caution before the issue ramifies and creates a fatal situation.

Some signs and symptoms of meningitis to watch out for include:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Altered mental status
  • Nausea
  • Light Sensitivity

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider or go to the nearest emergency department. While you are waiting for medical attention, you can take the following steps to help reduce your risk of complications:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration.
  • Rest: Rest is vital to recover from any medical condition and this serves right for Meningitis too.
  • Avoid close contact: Transmission of Meningitis is always due to close contact and you should avoid any contact with anyone in the vicinity to safeguard yourself.

  • Treatment plan: A plan is devised to ensure that the infected person doesn’t have to face major complications. Try to avoid missing out on the plan as it doesn’t serve any purpose.


There are some keeps and there are some workons in every aspect of life. If you want to do your health a favor avoid these mistakes:

  • Don’t Delay Taking Assistance: The question arises if you delay the check up and make more time off of being away from medication. Never ever delay assistance in such a situation.
  • Do not take over-the-counter pain medications: Over-the-counter pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen can make the symptoms of meningitis worse and should be avoided.
  • Do not share personal items: Meningitis is contagious, so avoid sharing personal items such as cups, utensils, and towels to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Do not go to school or work: If you have meningitis, it is important to stay home and avoid close contact with others until your healthcare provider gives you the okay to return to your normal activities.
  • Do not stop taking prescribed medications: Medication has some basic attributes and it involves being consistent in taking it. Never try to become the judge and decide that you would want to stop taking the medicines without consulting the prescribed health provider or your doctor.

Meningitis - Diagnosis and Tests

Medically there are various methods to find out if a medication is worth the time, and diagnosis helps you attain it. The specific tests used will depend on the suspected cause of the meningitis (viral or bacterial) and the severity of the illness.

Some common tests used to diagnose meningitis include:

  • Physical examination: A healthcare provider will perform a physical examination, looking for signs and symptoms of meningitis such as a fever, rash, and stiff neck.
  • Laboratory tests: A sample of blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may be taken and analyzed in a laboratory to identify the cause of the meningitis.
  • CT scan: Clarity is compulsory if you want to stay away from any problems and a CT scan can be the perfect way to find out the root cause of the problem as many Meningitis symptoms coincide with other diseases.
  • Spinal tap: A lumbar puncture, also called Spinal Tap, is a process where a needle is injected into the lower bottom of your spinal cord to collect samples. It helps one determine if you have Meningitis or not.

Diagnosis and Treatment using the methods informed above and others that are specific to your requirements help you stay away from the risk of contracting Meningitis.

What are possible complications of Meningitis?

Meningitis can be a serious and potentially life-threatening illness, and it can lead to a number of complications if not treated promptly. Meningitis complications may include but not be limited to:

  • Brain damage: A damage to the brain tissue can result in various neurological problems including difficulty in concentrating on a specific thing or learning anything. It can also involve seizures, and also memory loss.
  • Hearing loss: The auditory nerve is important for hearing, and meningitis impacts the nerve leading to hearing loss or even disability.
  • Amputation: Meningitis can cause blood clots to form in the limbs, leading to tissue death (gangrene) leading to amputation.
  • Hydrocephalus: The hydrocephalus gets accumulation of fluid, and as a part of the brain any additional pressure on the brain can cause damage to sensory attributes.
  • Septicemia: If this meningitis bacteria enters the bloodstream then it can cause bloodstream infection leading to septicemia.
  • Death: If the case is severe then you may also see people die and it reduces the chances of a full recovery while also increasing complications.

Home Remedies for Meningitis

It is important to note that home remedies should not be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment for meningitis. Medical assistance can be vital in saving a life and so the early diagnosis or the prevention of the disease will play a major factor in the health.

That being said, there are some things you can do at home to help manage the symptoms of meningitis while you are waiting for medical attention or during the recovery process:

  • Get plenty of rest: Getting rest and allowing your body to rest can help your body fight the infection and speed your recovery.
  • Hydrate Yourself: Drinking fluids, especially water is an awesome way to keep yourself safe and avoid the risk of Meningitis.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications: A medical professional’s treatment is prescribed in such situations and you should look at it as the way ahead to avoid complications.
  • Cool Compress: Fever and discomfort are two of the major issues and if you want to avoid that situation then a cool compress can be your best friend.
  • No contact with others: Never discount the fact that contact with others will only create hassles. So if you have Meningitis or think someone may have the disease then avoid contact with the person and those around them.

Do not rely on home remedies alone to treat the condition.

What to eat in Meningitis?

Meningitis requires you to have a healthy diet and that can be attained by following the appended practices. Here are some general guidelines for what to eat when you have meningitis:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, broth, and sports drinks, to help prevent dehydration.
  • Well-balanced diet: When you include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources in your diet then you are giving your body the signal that you are focused on the health aspect which in turn helps you become healthy and fit.
  • Avoid Spicy Foods: Avoid any food that is not a simple one as even spicy, alcohol or foods of that nature would have a bad impact on your life.
  • Eat small, frequent meals: Large meals may be difficult to digest when you have meningitis. Eat small meals to help the appetite and also your food system.
  • Avoid caffeine: Caffeine can interfere with sleep and may exacerbate symptoms such as headache and fatigue.

Avoiding your own will and following the healthcare guidelines is the best as they may have specific recommendations based on your individual needs and the severity of your illness.

What not to eat in Meningitis?

If you have meningitis, it is important to avoid certain foods that may irritate the digestive system or interfere with treatment. Meningitis requires you to avoid some foods and appended is the list for your perusal:

  • Spicy foods: A spicy food would interfere with your digestive system and should be avoided at all costs to avoid a catastrophe.
  • Fatty foods: Fatty foods may be difficult to digest and may worsen nausea and vomiting.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications used to treat meningitis and should be avoided.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine can interfere with sleep and may exacerbate symptoms such as headache and fatigue.

It is also important to avoid raw or undercooked foods, as they may contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Follow any prescribed guidelines to avoid hassles.

Meningitis Treatment

The treatment varies based on the bacterial or viral condition of meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is typically treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Immediate treatment helps you get rid of complications. Intravenous fluids and medications to control fever and pain are necessary too.

In most cases, viral meningitis is less serious and may go away on its own. Antiviral drugs, however, may occasionally be employed to decrease the illness's duration. Symptom management may require supportive care, such as bed rest and painkillers.

Which doctor to consult for Meningitis?

You can consult with doctors on Lybrate,com by mentioning your city and your issue. The doctors will be available to you based on your respective search.

What is the price of Meningitis treatments in India?

The cost of treatment for meningitis in India can vary depending on the type of meningitis, the severity of the infection, and the length of treatment. In general, the cost of treatment for bacterial meningitis may be higher than the cost of treatment for viral meningitis. The cost of treatment may also be higher for severe cases of meningitis that require hospitalization and intensive care.

What are side-effects of Meningitis treatments?

The side effects of meningitis treatment depend on the type of treatment being used. Some common side effects of meningitis treatment may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash or skin irritation
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing or hives
  • Changes in liver function

In some cases, the side effects of meningitis treatment may be more severe and may require medical attention. Before beginning any treatment, it's crucial to address any potential side effects with a healthcare professional. Additionally, it is crucial to inform a healthcare professional as soon as you experience any negative effects.

Meningitis - Outlook / Prognosis

The type of meningitis, the intensity of the illness, the patient's age, and general health all affect the outlook or prognosis for someone with meningitis. The prognosis for viral meningitis is generally favorable since with the right care, the majority of patients fully recover in a few weeks. Since bacterial meningitis can be a potentially fatal infection, the prognosis is more dire. However, the majority of sufferers of bacterial meningitis can make a full recovery with quick diagnosis and care.

People who have certain risk factors, like a compromised immune system, or those who delay seeking treatment may have a worse prognosis. Meningitis may cause long-term difficulties in some patients, such as hearing loss, vision issues, or cognitive issues. If you believe you or someone you know may have meningitis, you should see a doctor as soon as you can because prompt treatment can enhance the outlook and prognosis.


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Written ByDr. Arun Sharma MBBS,MS - General Surgery,MCh - Neuro SurgeryNeurology
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