Things that may raise the risk of this health problem are:
- Community living, such as a college dormitory or military base
- Close and prolonged contact with people with meningitis
- Travel to places with outbreaks of the infection
- Changes in the nasal passages and throat due to birth defects or head trauma
- Suppressed immune system caused by certain health conditions or medicines
- Prior surgery
- Having cochlear implants
These symptoms can start over many hours or take 1 to 2 days:
- High fever
- Very stiff, sore neck
Other symptoms may be:
- Red or purple skin rash
- Bluish skin color
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to bright lights
Babies may also have these symptoms:
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Problems feeding or lack of hunger
- Tightness or bulging on the top of the head
- Problems waking
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
These tests may be done to look for signs of infection:
- Blood tests
- Blood cultures
- Urine tests
- Tests of mucous and pus from your skin
- Lumbar puncture to test the fluid around the spine and brain
Images may be taken with a CT scan in some people.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Spinal Meningitis)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Meningitis Foundation of American http://www.musa.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada http://www.meningitis.ca
Bacterial meningitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bacterial-meningitis-in-adults . Updated July 3, 2019. Accessed October 11, 2019.
Bacterial meningitis in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bacterial-meningitis-in-children . Updated August 22, 2018. Accessed October 11, 2019.
McGill F, Heyderman RS, et al. Acute bacterial meningitis in adults. Lancet. 2016 Dec 17;388(10063):3036-3047.
Meningitis and encephalitis fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Meningitis-and-Encephalitis-Fact-Sheet. Updated August 13, 2019. Accessed October 11, 2019.
Meningococcal disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/index.html. Updated May 31, 2019. Accessed October 11, 2019.