Learning About Bacterial Meningitis

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Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord. This serious infection can injure the brain. It can cause death.

Symptoms usually develop suddenly. They start with a fever and a stiff neck but quickly get worse. The infection may involve many different parts of the body. You will be in the hospital for testing and treatment.

How long it takes you to get better depends on how bad the illness is. It can take from just a couple of weeks to many months. You may have changes in how you think or concentrate. Most people with these symptoms get better over time. Be patient. Follow your doctor's instructions.

How is it treated?

Treatment takes place in the hospital. Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics to treat infection.
  • Medicines to treat other symptoms, such as fever and muscle aches, pressure on the brain, and seizures, if they occur.
  • Help with breathing. You may have a tube down your throat that is attached to a machine (ventilator).
  • Fluids or nutrition through a vein (I.V.).
  • Supportive care. You will be watched carefully to help prevent serious problems such as hearing loss, seizures, and brain damage.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.