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How is meningitis diagnosed and treated? – Part 2

1. Self-Care at Home
• Prompt diagnosis and treatment of meningitis is essential.
• If you cannot take the person to the hospital, it is advisable to call an ambulance.

2. Emergency care
Basic treatment involves these procedures:
• Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever.
• Keep the person in a darkened, quiet area.
• If the person is vomiting, lay the person on one side to prevent him or her from inhaling vomit.

3. Home care
• Home care is only recommended if the person has mild viral meningitis.
• This can only be determined by a spinal tap.
• If the doctor determines that the person is suffering from mild viral meningitis, medications may be needed for control of headache and fever.
• This is often accomplished with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or stronger pain medications.
• Antibiotics are not helpful for viral meningitis.
• If someone is sent home from the doctor with viral meningitis, it is important that the person sees his or her regular doctor in the next one to two days for a checkup.
• When someone with viral meningitis is treated at home, watching for signs of a worsening condition is essential.

Seek the care of a doctor immediately if any of the below occur in the patient:
• Profuse or uncontrollable vomiting.
• Worsening headache or fever.
• Seizures.
• Weakness or numbness of any extremities.
• Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or walking.
• Confusion or excessive sleepiness.

Medical Treatment

Care of bacterial meningitis begins by ensuring that your breathing and blood pressure are adequate.
• An IV line is inserted and fluids are given.
• You are placed on a heart monitor.
• Intravenous antibiotics may be given.
• Steroids may be given to try to decrease the severity of the disease.
• A breathing tube (intubation) may be inserted to help with breathing.
• Larger IV lines may be inserted in the groin, the chest, or the neck
• Medications may be given to improve blood pressure and to stop seizures.
• A tube (catheter) may be placed in the bladder to check your hydration (or fluid status).

Prevention for Adult Meningitis

Antibiotics can be given to help prevent meningitis if a person has had the following:
• Close contact with someone who has meningitis.
• Prolonged close contact.
• Exposure to mouth, nose, or lung secretions.
• Even if preventive antibiotics have been given, anyone who has been exposed to someone with meningitis needs to seek medical attention.
• This is especially true if sore throat, fever, headache, rash, or neck stiffness develops.
• Preventive antibiotics are not necessary for all cases of meningitis.
• This is not required unless the doctor suspects or confirms that the meningitis is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.
• Incoming college freshmen who live in close quarters, such as dormitories, may be given a vaccine.
• This is to prevent this type of bacterial meningitis.
• Other college students may also elect to have the single-dose shot.

Neurology for the Non-Neurologist Meningitis (Diseases & Disorders) Meningitis

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