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Diagnosing & Treating Meningitis


Meningitis is an infection of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the meninges, the membranes that cover and protect the spinal cord and brain. It can be caused by bacteria or a virus. Bacterial meningitis comes on suddenly. Viral meningitis is usually milder than bacterial meningitis and can develop suddenly or over a period of several weeks. Meningitis is a serious disease that can have life-threatening complications. 

Dignity Health is here to help, 24/7, offering personal care for meningitis in the Bay Area.

Symptoms of Meningitis

Common symptoms of bacterial and viral meningitis include: 

  • Changes in mental status or behavior
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Infants may have a bulging soft spot and be fussy and not eat
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomitingStiff neck
  • Rash
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis tend to be more severe than viral meningitis. Seek medical care if you’ve been around someone who has meningitis or if you have symptoms of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can progress rapidly and can lead to death within days.

Meningitis Treatment in the Bay Area

Treatment of all forms of meningitis usually includes:

  • Fluids intravenously (IV) or by mouth to replace those lost from being ill
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and other medications for fever and pain
  • Monitoring and possibly treatment of people who have had close contact with a person with meningitis, even if they have no symptoms
  • Rest

Additional treatment for bacterial meningitis includes:

  • Hospitalization, possibly in an intensive care setting (ICU)
  • Intensive monitoring for complications, including coma, seizures, and brain swelling; Life support measures may also be necessary
  • IV antibiotics

Help prevent meningitis by washing your hands regularly and getting a meningococcal vaccine if you are at risk of contracting the disease. Talk to your doctor at Dignity Health for further information.

Dignity Health in the Bay Area offers comprehensive care for all forms of meningitis in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.