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Bacterial Meningitis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 3, 2024.

What is bacterial meningitis?

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.

What increases my risk for bacterial meningitis?

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. Your risk for bacterial meningitis is increased if you are older than 60 years or between 15 and 24 years. Diabetes, cancer, or an organ transplant also increases your risk.

What are the signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis?

Any of the following may develop within hours or days:

How is bacterial meningitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your signs and symptoms. Tell him or her if you were recently around anyone who has bacterial meningitis. You may also need any of the following:

How is bacterial meningitis treated?

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

How can I help prevent the spread of bacterial meningitis?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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Learn more about Bacterial Meningitis

Treatment options

Care guides

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.