Meningitis Treatment Chicago, IL
Meningitis refers to inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. This swelling typically triggers a headache, fever and a stiff neck. While some causes of meningitis will improve on their own without treatment, others can be life-threatening and require antibiotic treatment.
If you begin experiencing meningitis symptoms, it is important to meet with a healthcare provider who can identify its origin and recommend precise treatment which attacks the underlying cause of your symptoms. To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Chicago that specializes in meningitis treatment, call (708) 435-2381 or contact Rita N. Oganwu MD, SC online.
Types of Meningitis
There are several different types of meningitis, including:
Bacterial meningitis: Often caused by an ear or sinus infection, a skull fracture or (rarely) from a surgery, bacterial meningitis occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream, traveling to the brain and spinal cord where it directly invades the meninges. Strains of bacteria most commonly causing acute bacterial meningitis include:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus)
- Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus)
- Haemophilus influenzae (haemophilus)
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Viral meningitis: Usually mild and not requiring treatment as it often clears up on its own, viral meningitis is the most common form of meningitis and is often caused by non-polio enteroviruses though may also be caused by the mumps virus, herpesviruses, such as herpes simplex viruses, varicella-zoster virus (which causes chickenpox and shingles), measles virus, influenza virus, arboviruses (such as West Nile virus) as well as lymphocytic choriomeningitis.
- Fungal meningitis: A relatively uncommon form of meningitis which causes chronic meningitis, fungal meningitis may mimic acute bacterial meningitis, though it isn’t contagious from person-to-person. Cryptococcal meningitis, a common fungal form of the disease, poses the greatest risk to those who have an immune deficiency (such as AIDS) and can be life-threatening if not treated with an antifungal medication.
Parasitic meningitis: Parasitic meningitis, a less common form of meningitis, is caused by three parasites:
- Angiostrongylus cantonensis (neurologic angiostrongyliasis)
- Baylisascaris procyonis (baylisascariasis; neural larva migrans)
- Gnathostoma spinigerum (neurognathostomiasis)
- Amebic meningitis: A very rare form of meningitis that is usually fatal, primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) is caused by the microscopic ameba (a single-celled living organism) Naegleria fowleri which enters the body through the nose when you come into contact with water containing the ameba.
- Non-infectious meningitis: Characterized by sudden onset of fever, headache and a stiff neck, this type of meningitis is caused by certain cancers, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), certain drugs, head injury or brain surgery while not spread from person-to-person.
Early signs of meningitis may be similar to flu symptoms and may develop over the course of several hours or days. Symptoms in patients older than the age of 2 include:
- High fever
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache that seems different from a normal headache and which may be associated with nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Sleepiness or difficulty walking
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of appetite and thirst
- Skin rash
Additionally, signs of meningitis in newborns and infants could include:
- High fever
- Constant crying
- Excessive sleepiness or irritability
- Poor feeding
- A bulge in the soft spot on the top of your baby’s head (fontanel)
- Stiffness in your baby’s body and neck
It's important to seek immediate medical treatment if you or your loved one presents with any of the above meningitis symptoms. Bacterial meningitis can be serious and even fatal within days without prompt antibiotic treatment, while delayed treatment increases the risk of permanent brain damage.
If meningitis is suspected, your healthcare provider will take a full medical history, conduct a physical exam and run diagnostic tests which can confirm a meningitis diagnosis. During your physical exam, your healthcare provider may inspect for signs of infection around the head, ears, throat and the skin along the spine. Diagnostic tests your healthcare provider may recommend could include:
- Blood cultures, which consist of blood samples being placed in a Petri dish to see if it grows with microorganisms (specifically, bacteria). A sample may, alternatively, be placed on a slide and stained (Gram’s stain), after which it is studied under a microscope for bacteria.
- Imaging, such as computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) scans of the head, may be recommended to visualize any swelling or inflammation. X-rays or CT scans, alternatively, of the chest or sinuses show infection in other areas related to meningitis.
- A spinal tap (lumbar puncture), to make a definitive meningitis diagnosis, your healthcare provider will collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and inspect it for glucose levels (low glucose levels along with an increased white blood cell count could indicate increased protein). Additionally, this test will help your healthcare provider determine what bacterium caused your meningitis in order to offer precise treatment.
Meningitis Treatment & Prevention
Depending on the type of meningitis you have, meningitis treatment will vary.
- Bacterial meningitis treatment often includes intravenous antibiotics and corticosteroids to ensure the risk of complications, such as brain swelling and seizures, is reduced and recovery is optimized. A broad-spectrum antibiotic may be recommended if your healthcare provider can’t determine the exact cause of your bacterial meningitis, while he or she may also drain any infected sinuses or mastoids (the bones behind the outer ear connecting to the middle ear).
- Viral meningitis treatment will typically include bed rest. Your healthcare provider will also recommend you get plenty of fluids and may recommend an over-the-counter pain medication to relieve your body aches and reduce your fever. If herpes caused your meningitis, antiviral medications will be prescribed.
- Fungal meningitis treatment may include long courses of high dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital setting.
- Parasitic meningitis treatment often focuses on improving your symptoms (such as pain medications for headaches, or medications to reduce the body’s reaction to the parasite) rather than the infection itself.
- Amebic meningitis treatment may include certain medications, though their effectiveness is not clear. The best treatment of amebic meningitis, therefore, is preventing infection by avoiding swimming in freshwater places, such as lakes and rivers.
However, the best way to approach meningitis is through prevention. Several forms of meningitis can be prevented with the meningococcal vaccine, which is recommended for all preteens and teens at 11-12 years old, as well as a booster shot at 16 years old.
Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Chicago that specializes in meningitis treatment and prevention. Call (708) 435-2381 or contact Rita N. Oganwu MD, SC online.
Rita N. Oganwu MD, SC
Address20303 S Crawford Ave
Olympia Fields, IL 60461
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed 12:00-1:30pm for lunch
Tue: 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Office closed to patients, calls only
Thu: 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed 12:00-1:30pm for lunch