The brain and spinal cord are surrounded by layers of tissue. These layers are called the meninges. When these layers becomes swollen and irritated it is called meningitis. The swelling in these layers can put pressure on the brain and spinal cord. The most common forms of meningitis include:
The Spinal Cord and Meninges
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Viral meningitis is caused by a virus such as:
Viruses can be spread in numerous ways including:
Factors that increase your risk of viral meningitis include:
Symptoms of viral meningitis include:
Symptoms in newborns and infants include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will focus on the nervous system. To help rule out other causes of the inflammation, such as a tumor, your doctor may need pictures of the brain, spine, and skull. These pictures can be created with:
Viral meningitis has similar symptoms as bacterial meningitis. To make sure you do not have bacterial meningitis, the following tests may be done:
If you are diagnosed with viral meningitis, follow your doctor's instructions .
You can not control where a virus goes once it is in your body. However, you can take steps to prevent viral infections:
Meningitis Foundation of America
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public Health Agency of Canada
Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Medical Information . 18th ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck; 2006.
Meningitis. US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html . Accessed November 13, 2012.
Viral meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 17, 2012. Accessed November 13, 2012.
Viral Meningitis. US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html . Updated March 15, 2012. Accessed November 13, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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