The brain and spinal cord are covered by layers of tissue. These layers are called the meninges. Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the meninges and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.
Bacterial meningitis is a serious infection. It is a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment. Depending on the severity of the infection, it can result in death within hours.
Bacterial meningitis can be caused by many different bacteria. The likelihood of having one type of bacteria over another varies by age group. Severity of the infection depends on the bacteria causing it and the overall health of your immune system.
Transmission of the bacteria usually occurs by direct contact with oral or respiratory secretions, such as inhaling droplets from someone who sneezes or coughs, or by kissing. The spread of the bacteria depends on the time of the year, crowding, and the presence other respiratory infections.
More than 90% of all people with this infection survive with immediate care, including:
Antibiotics and corticosteroids—often given together
Antibiotics are given through an IV. This is started as soon as the infection is suspected. The antibiotics may be changed once tests find the exact bacterial cause.
People usually stay in the hospital until the fever has fallen
and the fluid around the spine and the brain is clear of infection.
This may require a hospital stay of several days.
These are usually given by IV early in treatment, but are generally used for specific causes of meningitis.
Corticosteroids control brain pressure and swelling. They also reduce the body’s production of inflammatory substances. This treatment can prevent further damage.
Specifically, it reduces the risk of hearing loss and neurological complications.
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Diagnosis, initial management, and prevention of meningitis.
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