Meningitis: Putting It All Together

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to meningitis.

  • Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membrane lining the brain and spinal cord caused most often by a viral or bacterial infection that crosses the body’s blood-brain barrier.
  • Meningitis is diagnosed by a lumbar puncture, in which a small amount of fluid is collected from the spinal column.
  • There are two main types of meningitis: bacterial and viral. Bacterial meningitis is less common, but more serious.
  • Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics and the majority of patients make a full recovery.
  • Viral meningitis usually requires no treatment beyond painkillers.
  • Most patients make a full recovery from meningitis. A small number of infected people end up with hearing or vision loss or brain damage.
  • Vaccinations against some forms of meningitis are available. They are recommended for children under age 5, people in close contact with someone who has developed meningitis, college students, and people travelling to certain overseas destinations.

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