Meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges) caused by bacteria or viruses. Typical symptoms include severe headaches, fever and a stiff neck.

Overview

Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges) caused by bacteria or viruses. Typical symptoms include severe headaches, fever and a stiff neck. It is usually treated with antibiotics and anti-viral medication; some vaccinations (“tick vaccination”) help to prevent infection.

Symptoms

Symptoms

  • New and intense headaches
  • Fever (often accompanied by chills)
  • Stiff neck (head can't bend forward because this stretches the inflamed meninges and is painful)
  • Nausea, dizziness and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Double vision, hearing defects
  • Disorientation, seizures and paralysis indicate severe inflammation
  • Patients who are severely ill have a distinctive, reddish-blue rash (petechiae - caused by bleeding under the skin)

Meningitis caused by bacteria usually starts with a sudden high fever which continues to rise. Meningitis caused by viruses usually has a milder progression.

Complications

  • The inflammation can spread to the brain (encephalitis)
  • Formation of a brain abscess (pocket of pus)
  • Blood poisoning (sepsis)
  • Blood clot (thrombosis) in cerebral veins
  • Lasting damage such as paralysis, loss of hearing, speech disorders, personality changes (behavioural disorders), epilepsy

Causes and treatment

Causes

Bacteria: transmitted by droplet infection (coughing, sneezing)

  • Meningococci
  • Pneumococci
  • Haemophilus influenza type B
  • Streptococci

Other triggers include a number of viruses, and very seldom also fungi or parasites.

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (search for bacteria and inflammatory markers)
  • Blood test (search for bacteria)
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Antibiotics (for bacteria)
  • Anti-viral medication

What can I do myself?

Prevention

There are vaccinations against some meningitis pathogens:

When to see a doctor?

In case of the simultaneous occurrence of the following symptoms:

Further information

www.bag.admin.ch

Synonyms

brain fever, tick vaccination, meningitis and encephalitis, TBE, flu, antibiotics, abscess, sepsis, epilepsy

Health insurance premiums at a glance

Calculate premium

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

CSS Insurance – your health partner

Being healthy, getting well or living with illness: as your health partner, CSS Insurance is by your side on your journey through life.

Well looked