When to Seek Treatment
- Seek medical care if you experience the hallmark symptoms of stiff neck, headache and fever. Other main symptoms include vomiting and confusion. Rapid treatment is necessary to prevent complications and to ensure the best outcome. Bacterial meningitis requires hospitalization, usually in the intensive care unit (ICU). This condition is considered a medical emergency.
- Meningococcal meningitis requires treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Penicillin is the preferred antibiotic agent for this condition. Resistance to this treatment is rare, but if you do show signs of resistance to penicillin, you will receive cefotaximine or ceftriaxone.
- Certain complications might require surgical intervention. They include subdural effusions, empyema and hydrocephalus. Subdural effusion is a buildup of pus in the outer lining of the brain while empyema is characterized by pus buildup in the lungs. Hydrocephalus indicates fluid buildup in the skull.
- Depending on your individual circumstances, other forms are care might be provided. You might receive IV hydration, medications to regulate blood pressure or to control convulsions, steroids or a breathing tube. If your mastoids, the bones behind the outer ear that connect to your middle ear become infected, they will be drained.
- Meningococcal meningitis is a preventable condition. Children should receive a vaccination between the ages of 11 and 12. This condition can spread easily in a community-living setting like a college dorm. If your child has not received the vaccination yet, he should get it before leaving for college. It is approved for children as young as two and can be used on younger children if they have been exposed to the bacteria or have an increased risk of getting the disease.
The bacteria responsible for meningitis can spread through kissing; shared utensils, toothbrushes and cigarettes; coughing and sneezing. As with any other contagious illness, common-sense self-care measures apply to keep you safe. They include washing your hands thoroughly and keeping your immune system strong with a healthy diet, exercise and adequate rest.