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Bacterial Meningitis In Children


Bacterial meningitis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds and protects your child's brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection and can be life-threatening. The most common symptoms include confusion, a high fever, stiff neck, and headache.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


Your child may be in isolation if he has an infection or disease that he can spread to others. Caregivers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands before and after visiting your child.

Neuro signs,

or neuro checks, show healthcare providers your child's brain function. They will check how your child's pupils react to light. They may check your child's memory and how easily he wakes up. Your child's hand grasp and balance may also be tested.


  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Steroids decrease redness, pain, and swelling.
  • Seizure medicine helps control seizures.


  • Blood tests are used to check for the bacteria that cause meningitis.
  • CT or MRI pictures may show signs of infection. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his body.
  • A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is a procedure used to take a sample of fluid that surrounds your child's spinal cord. Your child's healthcare provider will insert a needle into your child's spine. The fluid will be taken through the needle. The fluid will be tested for bacteria that causes meningitis.
  • A throat culture is a test that may help find the type of germ causing your child's illness. A throat culture is done by rubbing a cotton swab against the back of the throat.


Your child may become very sick. His brain may swell and he could have seizures. Without early treatment, your child's brain and other organs could be damaged. He may have hearing, vision, speech, or behavior problems. Untreated bacterial meningitis can cause paralysis or death.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.