Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial Meningitis

Overview Of Bacterial Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, or the membranes, covering the brain and spinal cord. Bacteria cause bacterial (meningococcal) meningitis. However, there are other causes. Viral, for example, and fungal.

Causes Of Bacterial Meningitis

Bacteria spread through aspiration, through droplets from sneezes, and coughs. There are several bacteria strains that cause meningitis. For instance, N. meningitides, and S. pneumonia are two such strains.

Children and infants are most susceptible, as are people with compromised immune systems. Other risk factors include head or neck infections, anatomical defects, and anatomical trauma.


Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency, and will need treatment in hospital. However, symptoms can come on quickly. These symptoms include fever and chills (especially in newborns and children), sensitivity to light (photophobia), opisthotonos (an odd posture, having the head and neck arched backward), nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, severe headache, decreased alertness, agitation, rapid breath, and changes in mental status. Babies may display excessive crying, and have bulging fontanelles. Children may likewise be irritable, and refuse to eat. 

If you believe you have symptoms of bacterial meningitis, you should go to the emergency department right away. Mental and physical impairment can result from this type of meningitis, as can death.

Exams & Tests

You will need a doctor’s evaluation for diagnosis. If meningitis is suspected, then a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) will be ordered, to collect a sample of spinal fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) for testing.

Your doctor may also order a chest x-ray, a head CT, or blood cultures.

Treatment Of Bacterial Meningitis

This type of meningitis is treated with antibiotics. Other treatments include intravenous (IV) fluids, and medications that treat, or manage, individual symptoms such as shock, brain swelling, or seizures.