MENINGITIS, BACTERIAL(Spinal Meningitis)
Bacterial meningitis is a bacterial infection or inflammation of the meninges (thin membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord). The central nervous system--including the brain, the coverings to the brain (meninges), and the spinal cord -- and peripheral nerves are involved. Bacterial meningitis can affect all ages but is more severe in children under age 2.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Self-care after hospitalization.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFever, chills, and sweating (may be absent in acritically ill child).
Eyes sensitive to light; pupils may be different sizes.
Red or purple skin rash.
Confusion, lethargy, drowsiness, or unconsciousness.
Sore throat or other signs of respiratory illness may precede other symptoms.
CAUSESInfection in another body part, such as the lung, ear, or sinus, that spreads to the meninges.
Head injury, such as a fractured skull, that allows infection to enter.
Infection caused by bacteria, from the following sources:
Illness that has lowered resistance.
Use of drugs that decrease the body's immune responses, such as anti-cancer drugs.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Consult your doctor for treatment of any infection in your child's body to prevent its spread.
Urge your child to avoid contact with anyone who has meningitis. Those who have had close contact with a person with meningitis may need preventive antibiotic treatment even if they have no symptoms.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies, such as blood-sugar tests and cultures of the throat, blood, nose, or other infection sites.
Lumbar puncture (See Glossary).
Death or permanent brain damage--including paralysis, hearing loss, speech difficulty, and intellectual impairment -- if not treated quickly.
Full recovery is likely in 2 to 3 weeks with treatment, if no complications arise.
HOME CARERestrict your child's visitors until the doctor determines the disease is no longer contagious.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe antibiotics, depending on what bacteria is causing the child's meningitis.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
While in the hospital, your child will need bed rest in a darkened room. After a 2- to 3-week recovery, the child should be as active as strength allows.
DIET & FLUIDS
Your child may be given intravenous nutrients in the hospital. At home, serve the child a normal, well-balanced diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not be necessary unless your child has a deficiency or cannot eat normally.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of bacterial meningitis.
Temperature rises to 101F (38.3C) or higher during treatment.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.
Your child has had contact with someone who has meningitis.