Meningitis Information: Meningitis is an infection of the tissues (meninges) and sometimes the fluid (cerebral spinal fluid, or CSF) that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis results in swelling of the brain tissue and in some cases the spinal tissue (spinal meningitis). When brain tissue swells, less blood and oxygen reach brain cells. If not treated, this can cause brain damage in some cases. The infection occurs most often in infants, young adults between the ages of 15 and 24, older adults, and people who have a long-standing health condition, such as a weakened immune system. Meningitis can range from mild to life-threatening. The severity usually depends on the organism causing the infection and a person's age and overall health. Treatment for meningitis depends on the cause of the infection. See your health professional immediately if you or your child develops symptoms of meningitis, because bacterial meningitis can lead to life-threatening complications if not treated early. * The majority of cases of meningitis are caused by a virus (viral meningitis), and most people get better in about 2 weeks. With mild cases of viral meningitis you may only need home treatment, including fluids to prevent dehydration and medication to control pain and fever. * Meningitis caused by bacteria needs to be treated with antibiotics in a hospital. You are more likely to develop complications during illness (such as prolonged fever and seizures) and long-term complications (such as hearing loss and vision problems) if infected with bacterial rather than viral meningitis. Death can occur if bacterial meningitis is not treated promptly.
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