Back to Previous Page

Viral Meningitis

Definition

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
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Viral meningitis is caused by a virus such as:
Viruses can be spread in numerous ways including:

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of viral meningitis include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of viral meningitis include:
Symptoms in newborns and infants include:

Diagnosis

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 of your bodily fluids may be done:

Treatment

Treatment includes:
If you are diagnosed with viral meningitis, follow your doctor's instructions .

Prevention

You can not control where a virus goes after it is in your body. However, you can take steps to prevent viral infections:

RESOURCES

Meningitis Foundation of America http://www.musa.org

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Meningitis. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html . Updated March 15, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2013.

Viral meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html . Updated March 15, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2013.

Viral meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 17, 2010. Accessed June 17, 2013.

Revision Information