Meningitis treatment varies according to the cause and severity of the symptoms. The availability of therapeutics in each country and resistance to antibiotics also determine the options to be implemented. Researchers agree that in the face of severe symptoms, the initial approach to meningitis should focus on stabilizing symptoms.
Based on the variant that the patient has developed, it could become quite serious in a matter of hours. For example, and following the information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), meningococcal meningitis is fatal in up to 50% of cases if timely treatment isn’t initiated. Today, we’ll show you the available options and some basic recommendations.
Pharmacological meningitis treatment
The therapies to counteract meningitis are different for each type of manifestation of the disease. Most cases develop from virus, bacterial, fungal, or parasite infections.; Because of that, it’s first necessary to determine which out of all these agents is the culprit.
Sometimes it isn’t possible to make a 100% certain diagnosis. It isn’t uncommon for preventive therapy to be started in order to save time and avoid complications.
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for bacterial meningitis. When the bacteria causing the inflammation hasn’t been confirmed, the specialist will prescribe broad-spectrum drugs, that is, those that are useful to deal with several types of microorganisms.
If the specific bacteria are discovered during the hours or days after starting treatment, the broad-spectrum antibiotics will be replaced by one with a more specific action. The choice should be made in consideration of possible resistance, as the Meningitis Center Australia reminds us.
For this reason, the use of third-generation cephalosporin treatments is preferred, such as ceftriaxone or cefotaxime.
If the cause of the pathology is viral, antibiotics won’t work. In this case, antivirals are used as a treatment for meningitis.
However, quite often, specialists will choose a support approach. The reason is that the related complications are very low and the symptoms usually disappear within a couple of days. Medication intended to control symptoms is preferable.
When there’s evidence or suspicion that the inflammation of the meninges is severe, the specialist will prescribe some type of corticosteroid medication. Studies and research support the use of dexamethasone in infants, children, and adults, and so this is the standard therapy.
It’s usually given before or at the same time as antibiotics, as antibiotics can cause mild inflammation when they start to work.
If meningitis is caused by fungi, specific antifungals will be used. The patient can start with over-the-counter medications to control the resulting symptoms. For example, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen are endorsed.
Home remedies for treating meningitis
Under normal conditions, the inflammation should be controlled with the above therapies. Hospital referral may be necessary, but this option is for severe cases or in groups particularly sensitive to complications.
Some tips to keep in mind while you’re recovering are as follows:
- Rest: Most patients recover within one or two weeks, during which time the doctor will recommend full rest. You should avoid intense activity, as well as limiting the interaction you have with other people (due to the risk of contagion).
- Wearing a neck brace: One of the characteristic symptoms of meningitis is a stiff neck and headache. This can be partially counteracted with the help of a neck brace.
- Relieve tension with ice packs: Although it’s a temporary palliative, some patients can find relief by using ice packs on the shoulders, neck, or back of the head.
- Maintain hydration: It’s common for people to develop poor appetite and low thirst during the course of the disease. Despite this, it is very important that you continue to eat and drink fluids to avoid decompensation.
Alternative medicine promotes the use of herbs, and people claim that these reduce inflammation of the meninges. If you decide to try these methods, you should inform the specialist, but you shouldn’t replace the main treatment.
Vaccines as a method of prevention
Unfortunately, having overcome the disease doesn’t make you immune to suffering from it in the future. As a prevention method, you can opt for some of the vaccination plans available, especially if you live in an area prone to epidemics.
The WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promote vaccination against the main bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis. It’s a safe option that has been shown to be effective in stopping the advance of the condition in different countries in Africa and Asia.
Johns Hopkins Medicine strongly recommends vaccination in the following cases:
- People planning to travel to countries with reported meningitis outbreaks.
- Patients diagnosed with altered states of immunity
- In the face of chronic lung diseases, such as COPD
- Patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or kidney failure
- When there’s an underlying autoimmune disorder
- Children under 10 years old and adults over 65
If the cause of the infection has been identified, it’s also recommended that you break the chain that has caused it. For example, direct contact with certain animals. The prognosis for recovery is very good.It might interest you...
- De Gans, J., & Van de Beek, D. Dexamethasone in adults with bacterial meningitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002; 347(20): 1549-1556.
- Griffiths, M. J., McGill, F., & Solomon, T. Management of acute meningitis. Clinical Medicine. 2018; 18(2): 164.
- Odio, C. M., Faingezicht, I., Paris, M., Nassar, M., Baltodano, A., Rogers, J., … & McCragken Jr, G. H. The beneficial effects of early dexamethasone administration in infants and children with bacterial meningitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 1991; 324(22): 1525-1531.