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Meningitis, often called spinal meningitis, is the inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, which, according to Medline Plus, causes changes in the cerebrospinal fluid 1. Meningitis exists in two forms--bacterial and viral. While both of these infections cause the same initial symptoms, bacterial meningitis is much more serious. Early diagnoses is essential to your teen's health and may prevent permanent neurological damage.
At first, it may be difficult to tell if your teen has contracted the flu or meningitis, as the initial symptoms can be very similar. General signs of meningitis include:
- severe headache
- which can be passed among teens through saliva
- mucus or feces
In addition, the infection may be spread by touching infected surfaces. Enteroviruses responsible for viral meningitis are common in summer and early fall, according to Kidshealth.org 2.
Side Effects of a Meningitis Vaccine
A common symptom of meningitis in teens is a stiff neck. If this symptom accompanies general signs of illness, it may be time to see a doctor. The doctor will perform a spinal tap on your teen to determine whether the infection is viral or bacterial. If the infection is bacterial, your teen may need to stay in the hospital for intravenous antibiotic treatments, according to Kidshealth.org 2. However, if the infection is deemed viral, no treatments are needed. A viral infection typically clears within weeks without lasting complications, according to Medline Plus 1. Medications to help ease aches and pains may be helpful.
- A common symptom of meningitis in teens is a stiff neck.
- If this symptom accompanies general signs of illness, it may be time to see a doctor.
Sensitivity to Light
Sensitivity to light is another symptom related to meningitis. Your teen may become agitated and even pained by light. Resting in a dark room may help relieve the discomfort.
Vitamins for Mononucleosis
A confused teen with the above symptoms may be infected with meningitis. Though the chances of contracting the bacterial form are rare, a prompt diagnosis is vital to keeping your teen safe from complications and even death. Due to the seriousness of the infection, Kidshealth.org reports doctors recommend vaccinations for all teens 2. In addition, many colleges require students be vaccinated.
- A confused teen with the above symptoms may be infected with meningitis.
- Though the chances of contracting the bacterial form are rare, a prompt diagnosis is vital to keeping your teen safe from complications and even death.
Side Effects of a Meningitis Vaccine
Vitamins for Mononucleosis
What Are the Different Types of Venereal Diseases?
Infections That Cause Back Pain
Diseases That Affect a Developing Baby
What Are the Dangers of a Sinus Infection?
Causes of Fever, Headache and Dry Cough
How Long Does Chlamydia Last Untreated?
Herpangina in Adults
A Newborn With Meningitis
- Medline Plus
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Viral Meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated August 6, 2019. cdc.gov
- Bahr NC, Boulware DR. Methods of rapid diagnosis for the etiology of meningitis in adults. Biomark Med. 2014;8(9):1085–1103. doi:10.2217/bmm.14.67
- Hersi K, Gonzalez FJ, Kondamudi NP. Meningitis. [Updated 2019 Dec 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459360/
- Hoffman O, Weber RJ. Pathophysiology and treatment of bacterial meningitis. Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2009;2(6):1–7. doi:10.1177/1756285609337975
- Ku LC, Boggess KA, Cohen-Wolkowiez M. Bacterial meningitis in infants. Clin Perinatol. 2015;42(1):29–viii. doi:10.1016/j.clp.2014.10.004
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Bacterial Meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated August 6, 2019. cdc.gov
- Swain CL, Martin DR. Survival of meningococci outside of the host: implications for acquisition [published correction appears in Epidemiol Infect. 2007 Nov;135(8):1406]. Epidemiol Infect. 2007;135(2):315–320. doi:10.1017/S0950268806006789
- Tattevin P, Tchamgoué S, Belem A, Bénézit F, Pronier C, Revest M. Aseptic meningitis. Rev Neurol (Paris). 2019;175(7-8):475–480. doi:10.1016/j.neurol.2019.07.005
- Lee BE, Davies HD. Aseptic meningitis. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2007;20(3):272–277. doi:10.1097/QCO.0b013e3280ad4672
- Colpitts TM, Conway MJ, Montgomery RR, Fikrig E. West Nile Virus: biology, transmission, and human infection. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2012;25(4):635–648. doi:10.1128/CMR.00045-12
- Bonthius DJ. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus: an underrecognized cause of neurologic disease in the fetus, child, and adult. Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2012;19(3):89–95. doi:10.1016/j.spen.2012.02.002
- Agrawal S, Nadel S. Acute bacterial meningitis in infants and children: epidemiology and management. Paediatr Drugs. 2011;13(6):385–400. doi:10.2165/11593340-000000000-00000
- Kastrup O, Wanke I, Maschke M. Neuroimaging of infections. NeuroRx. 2005;2(2):324–332. doi:10.1602/neurorx.2.2.324
- Doherty CM, Forbes RB. Diagnostic Lumbar Puncture. Ulster Med J. 2014;83(2):93–102.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Viral Meningitis. Updated August 6, 2019.
- Baldwin KJ, Zunt JR. Evaluation and treatment of chronic meningitis. Neurohospitalist. 2014;4(4):185–195. doi:10.1177/1941874414528940
- Brouwer MC, Tunkel AR, van de Beek D. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and antimicrobial treatment of acute bacterial meningitis. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2010;23(3):467–492. doi:10.1128/CMR.00070-09
- Taj A, Jamil N. Cerebrospinal Fluid Concentrations of Biogenic Amines: Potential Biomarkers for Diagnosis of Bacterial and Viral Meningitis. Pathogens. 2018 Apr 13;7(2). pii: E39. doi:10.3390/pathogens7020039.
- Villena R, Safadi MAP, Valenzuela MT, Torres JP, Finn A, O'Ryan M. Global epidemiology of serogroup B meningococcal disease and opportunities for preventionwith novel recombinant protein vaccines. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2018 Apr 18:1-50. doi:10.1080/21645515.2018.1458175. [Epub ahead of print]
A health-care professional for more than 10 years, Rica Lewis has obtained numerous certifications in the industry. In 2006 she began channeling her knowledge into health-related articles for print and online publications. Her work has appeared in "Metroparent Magazine," "Anew Heart Healthcare Magazine" and community newspapers. Lewis earned a diploma from LongRidge Writers Institute.