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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Bacterial meningitis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds and protects your brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection and can be life-threatening. The bacteria are found in the mouth, throat, or nose. They are spread from an infected person to another by coughing, kissing, or sharing food or drinks. It can also spread from an ear, nose, throat, sinus, or brain infection. A head injury or head surgery may also spread the infection.
Call 911 or have someone call 911 for any of the following:
- You are hard to wake.
- You have a seizure.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have a headache, fever, and stiff neck.
- You are confused.
- You start to have trouble seeing or hearing.
- You have a new red or purple skin rash.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You think someone in your family has bacterial meningitis.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
- Steroids decrease redness, pain, and swelling.
- Seizure medicine helps control seizures.
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Prevent the spread of bacterial meningitis:
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
- Get more rest and stay away from others.
- Do not share food or drinks. Discard tissues after you use them to wipe or blow your nose.
- Get vaccines as directed. Vaccines help protect you and others around you from diseases caused by infection.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.