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 may be caused by several viruses. Examples include:
Viruses can be spread in numerous ways including:
Viral meningitis is more common in children under 5 years old. Other factors that may increase the chance 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, your doctor may need images of the brain, spine, and skull. Imaging tests may include:
Viral meningitis has symptoms similar to bacterial meningitis. To make sure you do not have bacterial meningitis, the following tests of your bodily fluids may be done:
To reduce your chance of a viral infection:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Meningitis Foundation of America
Public Health Agency of Canada
Enteroviral meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115792/Enteroviral-meningitis. Updated September 8, 2015. Accessed September 27, 2015.
Viral meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html. Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed August 27, 2014.
Last reviewed May 2016 by David Horn, 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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