Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. The different types include bacteria, viral and fungal. The treatment will depend on what type your child may have. The most common types are viral and bacterial. Viral meningitis may improve without treatment. Bacterial meningitis is very serious and requires immediate treatment with antibiotics. Waiting too long to get treatment could end in death or brain damage. Bacterial meningitis can be fatal within a matter of days. The only way to know which type you have is to undergo a series of test.
Testing for meningitis may include:
- Blood cultures, Complete Blood Count
- CT or CAT scan of the head to see if there is any swelling around the sinuses
- Spinal Tap – involves collected spinal fluid that may identify the exact bacteria that is causing the illness
IF your infant is running fever and is under 2 months old you need to have your child examined by your child’s doctor. These are the signs and symptoms of meningitis in a newborn/infant.
- crying constantly
- the soft spot on the top of the baby’s head is bulging
- crying harder when picked up or moved
- not eating well
- very sleepy and inactive
- skin rash
- temperature LOWER than normal
Children and Teenagers
Some signs and symptoms that your child or teenager may have could include:
- Stiff neck
- headache (usually severe)
- extreme pain or inability to bend head forward (like your trying to touch your chin to your chest)
- skin rash or purple spots anywhere on the body
- sensitivity to light
Viral meningitis will resolve on it’s on usually without any treatment and will usually last about 7-10 days. Over the counter pain medicine may be used to help with body aches and fever. Make sure your child is drinking enough fluids as well. ALWAYS- consult your child’s doctor if you have any concerns about their health!
Bacterial meningitis will require IV (medicine that goes into your veins) antibiotics. Your doctor may use more than one antibiotic until the cultures are complete (which takes 24-72 hours). When the cultures are complete he or she will know which antibiotic to use to treat that particular bacteria. In most cases more than one antibiotic are used due to the severity of bacterial meningitis.
- routine immunizations are up to date including the meningococcal booster
- have your child wash their hands often
- do not share food or drinks
- avoid contact with anyone who has been infected with meningitis
Seek medical attention immediately if your child has symptoms of meningitis.