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Meningitis

Inflammation of the meninges (three thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord). Meningitis is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection, but sometimes is caused by cancer, drug allergies, or inflammatory diseases.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Meningitis

Meningitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection. It also may be caused by a virus, fungal infection, parasite, a reaction to certain medications or medical treatments, a rheumatologic disease such as lupus, some types of cancer, or a traumatic injury to the head or spine.

Bacterial meningitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease. It can be caused by several types of bacteria that first cause an upper respiratory tract infection and then travel through the blood stream to the brain. The disease can also occur when certain bacteria invade the meninges directly. The disease can cause stroke, hearing loss, and permanent brain damage.

Pneumococcal meningitis is the most common form of meningitis and is the most serious form of bacterial meningitis. Some 6,000 cases of pneumococcal meningitis are reported in the United States each year....Read more about Meningitis NIH - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Treatment of acute cryptococcal meningitis in HIV infected adults, with an emphasis on resource‐limited settings

Despite the advent and increasingly wide availability of antiretroviral therapy for people with HIV/AIDS, cryptococcal meningitis remains a significant cause of death and illness amongst individuals with HIV infection in resource‐limited settings (poor countries). The ideal way to manage cryptococcal meningitis remains unclear. The main aim of this review was to determine the best treatment for cryptococcal meningitis in resource‐limited settings. In these settings, usually only Amphotericin and fluconazole are available. The authors didn't find any suitable studies that compared these two drugs. Because Flucytosine, which works well with Amphotericin, is often not available in poor countries, policy makers and government officials should consider using this drug for HIV treatment programmes. Future research into the management of cryptococcal meningitis in resource‐limited settings should focus on the most effective use of medications that are available in these settings.

Antibiotics to prevent infection of the brain coverings (meningitis) in patients with basilar skull fracture

Basilar skull fracture (7% to 15.8% of all skull fractures) places the central nervous system in contact with bacteria from the nose and throat and may be associated with cerebrospinal fluid leakage (occurring in 2% to 20.8% of patients). Blood or watery discharge from the nose or ears, bruising behind the ear or around the eyes, hearing loss, inability to perceive odours or facial asymmetry may lead physicians to the diagnosis of basilar skull fracture. Patients with a basilar skull fracture may develop meningitis and some doctors give antibiotics in an attempt to reduce this risk.

Fluids for people with acute bacterial meningitis

We reviewed the evidence about the effect of differing volumes of initial fluid administration (up to 72 hours) on death and various neurological sequelae in people with acute bacterial meningitis.

See all (168)

Summaries for consumers

Treatment of acute cryptococcal meningitis in HIV infected adults, with an emphasis on resource‐limited settings

Despite the advent and increasingly wide availability of antiretroviral therapy for people with HIV/AIDS, cryptococcal meningitis remains a significant cause of death and illness amongst individuals with HIV infection in resource‐limited settings (poor countries). The ideal way to manage cryptococcal meningitis remains unclear. The main aim of this review was to determine the best treatment for cryptococcal meningitis in resource‐limited settings. In these settings, usually only Amphotericin and fluconazole are available. The authors didn't find any suitable studies that compared these two drugs. Because Flucytosine, which works well with Amphotericin, is often not available in poor countries, policy makers and government officials should consider using this drug for HIV treatment programmes. Future research into the management of cryptococcal meningitis in resource‐limited settings should focus on the most effective use of medications that are available in these settings.

Antibiotics to prevent infection of the brain coverings (meningitis) in patients with basilar skull fracture

Basilar skull fracture (7% to 15.8% of all skull fractures) places the central nervous system in contact with bacteria from the nose and throat and may be associated with cerebrospinal fluid leakage (occurring in 2% to 20.8% of patients). Blood or watery discharge from the nose or ears, bruising behind the ear or around the eyes, hearing loss, inability to perceive odours or facial asymmetry may lead physicians to the diagnosis of basilar skull fracture. Patients with a basilar skull fracture may develop meningitis and some doctors give antibiotics in an attempt to reduce this risk.

Fluids for people with acute bacterial meningitis

We reviewed the evidence about the effect of differing volumes of initial fluid administration (up to 72 hours) on death and various neurological sequelae in people with acute bacterial meningitis.

See all (48)

Terms to know

Bacterial Meningitis
Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord due to a bacterial infection.
Brain
The part of the central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium).
Encephalitis
Inflammation of the brain.
Inflammation
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
Meninges
The three thin layers of tissue that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Spinal Cord
A column of nerve tissue that runs from the base of the skull down the back. It is surrounded by three protective membranes, and is enclosed within the vertebrae (back bones). The spinal cord and the brain make up the central nervous system, and spinal cord nerves carry most messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
Viral Meningitis
Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord due to a viral infection.

More about Meningitis

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Other terms to know: See all 7
Bacterial Meningitis, Brain, Encephalitis

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