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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Fungal meningitis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds and protects your brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is caused by a fungal infection and can be life-threatening. The most common symptoms include a high fever, stiff neck, and headache.
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.
- An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
- Tests: You may need one or more of the following tests to help caregivers plan your treatment:
- Blood gases: This is also called an arterial blood gas, or ABG. Blood is taken from an artery (blood vessel) in your wrist, arm, or groin. Your blood is tested for the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in it. The results can tell caregivers how well your lungs are working.
- Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
- CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your head. Caregivers look at the pictures to make check for causes of your symptoms. Before taking the pictures, you may be given dye through an IV in your vein. The dye helps the brain show up better in the pictures. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) because you may also be allergic to this dye.
- Lumbar puncture: This procedure may also be called a spinal tap. During a lumbar puncture, you will need to lie very still. Caregivers may give you medicine to make you lose feeling in a small area of your back. Caregivers will clean this area of your back. A needle will be put in, and fluid removed from around your spinal cord. The fluid will be sent to a lab for tests. The tests check for infection, bleeding around your brain and spinal cord, or other problems. Sometimes medicine may be put into your back to treat your illness.
- MRI: This test is also called magnetic resonance imaging. During the MRI 3-D (three dimensional) pictures are taken of your head. Caregivers use these pictures to look for problems that may not appear on the CT scan.
- Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.
- A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.
- Sputum sample: Sputum (spit) from your lungs is collected in a special cup when you cough. It is sent to a lab for tests. The sputum may show what germ is causing meningitis. It can also help your caregiver choose what medicine is best for you.
- Urine sample: For this test you need to urinate into a small container. You will be given instructions on how to clean your genital area before you urinate. Do not touch the inside of the cup. Follow instructions on where to place the cup of urine when you are done.
- Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
- X-rays: These are pictures taken of the inside of the body. Caregivers use these pictures to look at your head, sinuses, chest, and other organs. The x-rays are used to look for signs of infection, tumors, and other things that could be causing your problems.
- Treatment options: Your treatment may change if the meningitis is not being controlled. This is often decided after you have tests. You may have one or more of the following treatments:
- Antifungal medicine: This medicine helps to kill the fungus causing your infection. Some medicines and products cannot be used at the same time as antifungal medicine. Tell your caregiver if you are taking other medicines, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements.
- Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
- Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
- Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
- Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and control vomiting (throwing up).
- Antipyretics: This medicine is given to decrease a fever.
- Steroids: This medicine decreases redness, pain, and swelling caused by your infection or your antifungal medicine.
- You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
- Lumbar drainage: You may need this procedure if your infection causes pressure to build up in your brain. A thin catheter (plastic tube) will be put into an area of the brain called the ventricle. This tube will allow fluid to drain and the pressure to return to normal.
- Ventriculoperitoneal shunt: A catheter from your brain may drain excess fluid into your abdomen (peritoneal cavity). A special pump may help move the fluid from your brain to your abdomen. The fluid will be taken up by your body and will no longer harm you.
You may be very sick with fungal meningitis. 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 fungal 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.
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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.