Meningitis is a rare type of infection caused by different organisms like bacteria, a virus, and fungus. The infection usually starts in some other parts of the body like sinuses, ears, or upper respiratory tract. Successful treatment of meningitis depends on several factors like cause of the infection, age of the person, presence of other medical conditions, intensity of infection, and the complications associated with the infection.
Viral meningitis may get better within three days and the person may get back to routine within two weeks. Viral meningitis can be treated with simple home remedies like having plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Pain and fever seen along with the infection can be controlled using routine medications. But whenever symptoms of meningitis appear, the actual cause of the disease should be found. This is important as bacterial meningitis is more serious. Bacterial meningitis may require hospitalization for treatment.
- Antibiotics are the most common medications used to treat meningitis and this is usually given intravenously.
- Infection of meninges may result in pressure within the brain, which is treated using corticosteroid medications like dexamethasone.
- Acetaminophen is recommended to reduce fever, one of the most common symptoms of meningitis infection. Improving the ventilation of the room and having plenty of fluids may also help in reducing fever. For very high fever, cooling pads may be used.
- Medications are prescribed also for controlling and preventing seizures.
- Oxygen therapy helps in controlling difficulty in breathing and to ensure supply of adequate amounts of oxygen to different parts of the body. In this therapy, oxygen is delivered using a hood, a face mask, a nose piece and a pipe that passes through the mouth into the windpipe.
- Infection of the brain increases the demand of fluids and hence the body fluid content is continuously monitored. Increasing the intake of fluids reduces dehydration. If vomiting is present, liquids are given intravenously. Monitoring the fluid content will help to ensure that the person gets enough amounts and not too less or more of liquids.
- Blood chemical levels are also monitored continuously. Blood tests are conducted periodically to measure the amount of chemicals like sugar and sodium.
In most cases, the person is treated in the intensive care unit of the hospital for continuous monitoring.
Fungal meningitis is treated with antifungal medications. Since antifungal medications have some serious side effects, these drugs are not given until the cause is clear. Cortisone is given in case of meningitis caused by allergy or autoimmune diseases.