Meningitis Treatment

Specific treatment for meningitis will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • The organism that is causing the infection
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Bacterial meningitis. Treatment for bacterial meningitis usually involves intravenous (IV) antibiotics. The earlier the treatment is started, the better the outcome. While steroid s have been shown to be helpful in treating bacterial meningitis in infants and children, this treatment is used less frequently in adults. Dexamethasone, a type of steroid, may be given in more acute cases of bacterial meningitis, to decrease the inflammatory response caused by the bacteria.
  • Viral meningitis. Treatment for viral meningitis is usually aimed at relieving symptoms. With the exception of the herpes simplex virus, there are no specific medications to treat the organisms that cause viral meningitis. Sometimes antiviral medications are used to treat some other specific types of viruses.

While recovering from meningitis, other therapies may be used to improve healing and comfort, and provide relief from symptoms. These may include the following:

  • Bed rest in a dimly lit room
  • Medications to reduce fever and headache. Aspirin should be avoided.

In addition, supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation (respirator) may be required if you become very ill and have difficulty breathing

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