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I Have a Splitting Headache: Types of Meningitis and Their Causes

I Have a Splitting Headache: Types of Meningitis and Their Causes

Meningitis is a potentially life-threatening disease that affects the brain. There are several types of meningitis. It is caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain. This is usually due to a virus or bacteria.

The infection causes inflammation or swelling of the protective membrane (meninges) that covers the brain and the spinal cord. Other causes of meningitis are injuries or trauma, certain medications, cancer, or other infections.

People of any age can get meningitis, but it spreads more easily among those living together.

Some of meningitis symptoms are:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • No appetite for food
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Skin rash

The treatment and medication for meningitis varies depending on its specific type and cause. It is best to identify which type of meningitis the patient is infected with before the symptoms become severe.

Types of Meningitis

Bacterial Meningitis

Bacteria causes this type of meningitis. This is the most common kind of meningitis after the viral type. Children from 1 month to 2 years old are at particular risk for bacterial meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis can spread from one person to another. It can be deadly and requires immediate medical attention. There are several vaccines available that can help fight against certain types of bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis.

Viral Meningitis

This is meningitis that is caused by viruses. It is the most common type of meningitis and is typically not as severe as bacterial meningitis. There are no available vaccines for viral meningitis. However, you can protect yourself by avoiding close contact with people who are infected, washing your hands frequently and keeping your surroundings clean.

Stay at home when you are sick to avoid spreading the virus to others. In most cases, people with this disease recover on their own without treatment. However, it is still best to consult your doctor right away when you have viral meningitis symptoms for correct diagnosis, to help determine what causes it and to receive proper medication.

Fungal Meningitis

Inhaled fungal spores cause this rare type of meningitis. It can develop when the fungus spreads throughout the body and reaches the brain or spinal cord. People with weak immune systems are more prone to this type of meningitis. To prevent fungal meningitis, you should avoid dusty activities like digging in soil. You should also avoid contact with large amounts of bird or bat droppings.

Parasitic Meningitis

Parasites cause this rare form of meningitis. Normally, these parasites infect animals and not people. But by eating the infected animals or any contaminated food, people can catch the disease. There is no specific medication for parasitic meningitis. Pain medication can manage headaches and other mild symptoms.

Amebic Meningitis

Also known as Primary Amebic Meningitis (PAM), this infection of the brain is rare and potentially fatal. A free-living ameba called Naegleria fowleri causes this infection. The ameba thrives in soil or bodies of warm freshwater such as hot springs, warm lakes and rivers, water heaters or poorly maintained swimming pools. It enters the body through the nose, usually when swimming, then travels up to the brain and infects brain tissues. To reduce the risk of infection, limit the amount of water that goes up to the nose while swimming.

Non-infectious Meningitis

There are certain conditions where meningitis is not caused by the spread of infection from one person to another. These noninfectious causes can be certain types of cancer, lupus, a head injury, brain surgery, or allergic reactions to drugs.

Is There a Connection Between Meningitis and COVID-19?

Key Takeaway

Common types of meningitis can be treated and managed. But others are severe and possibly deadly. A greater number of patients recover from meningitis. But permanent disabilities can result from the infection such as hearing loss, learning disabilities, or brain damage.

The best way to avoid meningitis is prevention. Vaccines can prevent some forms of bacterial meningitis. People with higher health risks, pregnant women, or infants should be more careful with what they eat or where they travel. Prepare your own food if possible. Implement all possible safety precautions before traveling. Research possible health risks at your destination. Protect other people by staying at home when you are ill. Practice good hygiene and eat healthy to avoid these infections and diseases.

Learn more about Infectious Diseases here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Meningitis | Home | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html

Accessed February 6, 2021

Meningitis – Causes and Symptoms – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350508

Accessed February 6, 2021

Types and causes of meningitis, https://www.meningitisnow.org/meningitis-explained/what-is-meningitis/types-and-causes/

Accessed April 20, 2021

Meningitis, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/meningitis.html

Accessed April 20, 2021

Bacterial Meningitis, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11039-bacterial-meningitis

Accessed April 20, 2021



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Written by Lhay Ann Boctoy on Apr 15