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Bacterial Meningitis

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.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you 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 medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Isolation safety measures

may be used if you have an infection that can be passed from person to person. Healthcare providers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, or a gown. Visitors should wash their hands before leaving to keep from spreading germs.

Neuro signs,

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

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Steroids decrease redness, pain, and swelling.
  • Seizure medicine helps control seizures.
  • Fever medicine is given to lower a high temperature.

Tests:

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

RISKS:

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

CARE AGREEMENT:

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

© 2017 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.

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