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Meningitis causes inflammation (swelling) of the membranes, known as meninges, around your brain and spinal cord.

While most cases of meningitis in the United States are caused by a viral infection, bacterial and fungal infections can also cause the condition.

Symptoms of meningitis may include:

  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced appetite or thirst
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Severe headache
  • Skin rash
  • Sleepiness or difficulty walking
  • Stiff neck
  • Sudden high fever

Meningitis is a serious condition, and it is important that you receive prompt medical care. If left untreated, the following complications can result:


Blood Culture
In this test, a sample of your blood is placed in a special dish to see if it grows microorganisms, particularly bacteria.

Imaging Tests
Your doctor may order an imaging test – such as a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – to check for swelling or infection.

Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture)
For a definitive diagnosis of meningitis, your doctor will order a spinal tap to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid around your spinal cord. Your doctor can tell if you have meningitis from an analysis of your CSF.


If you have bacterial meningitis, your doctor will order intravenous (through the vein) antibiotics and corticosteroids.

Bed Rest
If you have viral meningitis, your doctor will recommend bed rest and that you drink plenty of fluids during your recovery period.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medications
If you have viral meningitis, your doctor may recommend you take over-the-counter pain medication to help reduce your fever and relieve body aches.

Why Choose UHealth?

Advanced, specialized care to fight infections. From the latest diagnostic techniques to the newest evidence-based medicines, our infectious disease physicians offer specialized care for many infectious diseases including HIV, cytomegalovirus, fungal infections, mycobacterial infections, and more. We create personalized treatment plans based on the cause of your infection and your health to prevent and fight bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. You’ll have access to expert physicians, more treatment options, and supportive care that focuses on your needs.

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