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Fungal Meningitis


What is fungal meningitis?

Fungal meningitis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds and protects your brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is caused by fungus and can be life-threatening.

What increases my risk for fungal meningitis?

Fungal meningitis is not spread from person to person. Fungus germs live in soil. The fungus can enter your body through your nervous system. It can also spread to your nervous system from another part of your body. Your risk for fungal meningitis is higher if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, or HIV. Your risk is also higher if you take certain medicines over a long period of time.

What are the signs and symptoms of fungal meningitis?

  • A severe headache, stiff neck, and a fever
  • Neck pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eye pain when you look into bright lights
  • Sleepiness or confusion

How is fungal meningitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. Tell him if you recently had contact with soil. Tell him if you have a medical problem or have been taking any medicine for a long period of time. The following tests may be used to check for signs of fungal meningitis:

  • Blood tests may be used to check for the fungus that causes meningitis.
  • X-ray, MRI, or CT scan pictures may be used to check for 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 damage. 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 from around your spinal cord. Your healthcare provider will insert a needle into your spine through your skin. The fluid will be taken through the needle. The sample is tested for the fungus that can cause meningitis.

How is fungal meningitis treated?

You may need medicine to kill the fungus, lower a fever, or reduce inflammation.

What can I do to prevent infections?

  • Discard the tissue after you use it to wipe or blow your nose.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Do not share food or drinks.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You are hard to wake. Tell someone to call 911 if it becomes hard to wake you.
  • You have a seizure.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a headache, fever, and stiff neck.
  • You are confused.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2020 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 IBM Watson Health

Further information

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

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