Treatments and Medications for Meningitis

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Meningitis is the acute inflammation of the brain and spinal cord’s protective membranes. This condition is triggered by bacterial, viral and fungal inflammation. But there are cases wherein meningitis is caused by certain medications.

Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis

The most common signs and symptoms of meningitis are a stiff neck, headache, confusion, fever, altered consciousness, and intolerance of bright lights. Bacterial meningitis may also cause rashes.

Treating Meningitis

The treatment for this condition will depend on what pathogens triggered the inflammation. There are three types of meningitis: bacterial, viral and fungal.

Viral Meningitis

Because viruses are impervious to antibiotic drugs, the physician is likely to stop any antibiotic therapy the patient is using in place of anti-viral medications. Meningitis caused by viruses is milder than bacterial meningitis.

There is no specific treatment for this type of meningitis. With a little rest, over the counter medications and lots of fluid intake, a patient’s condition should improve within 7 to 10 days. However, if the condition is caused by a herpes simplex or influenza virus, the doctor will prescribe anti-viral medication. Generally, viral meningitis does not require hospitalization.

For viral meningitis caused by herpes or influenza virus, the doctor is likely to prescribe antiviral drugs ganciclovir and foscarnet. These drugs are ideal for cytomegalovirus meningitis in people with weak immune system, infants born with infection, or severely unwell individuals (HIV/AIDS patients, patients undergoing chemotherapy). The drug acyclovir is also used to treat meningitis caused by the herpes virus. For meningitis caused by influenza virus, your doctor may prescribe peramivir and oseltamivir.

Bacterial Meningitis

As the name implies, bacterial meningitis is caused by certain strains of bacteria. Of the three types of meningitis, bacterial meningitis is the most severe. In fact, a patient who is suffering from bacterial meningitis requires urgent medical help and hospitalization. Patients who are afflicted with severe bacterial meningitis will be treated in the intensive care unit or ICU.

This condition is treated through antibiotics medication. The drugs will be administered intravenously. At the same time, intravenous fluids and steroid medications are also administered to reduce brain swelling.

If the patient is responding well to the medication, he or she will be released by the hospital a week after hospitalization. But in severe cases of bacterial meningitis, hospitalization could last weeks and even months.

As for treatment, the patient is likely to take different types of antibacterial medications such as cephalosporin antibiotics (cefotaxime and ceftriaxone) and vancomycin for streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitides. For meningitis caused by haemophilus influenzae type B and listeria monocytogenes, the doctor is likely to prescribe ampicillin. Meropenem and the aminoglycoside antibiotics, tobramycin, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, and rifampin are other antibiotic drugs used to treat bacterial meningitis.

Fungal Meningitis

Fungal meningitis is caused by different strains of fungus such as Cryptococcus neoformans, Candida albicans, and Naegleria fowleri. Patients afflicted with fungal meningitis will require high-dose antifungal medications administered intravenously.

Some of the most common antifungal treatments for fungal meningitis include fluconazole, amphotericin B, and miconazole. Certain types of corticosteroids are also administered to reduce inflammation. In severe cases of fungal meningitis, diazepam or phenytoin are also administered to reduce seizures.