Meningitis happens when the brain’s lining becomes inflamed. This lining is called the meninges. Aseptic meningitis occurs when there are signs of meningitis. However, when a sample of brain fluid is taken, bacteria do not grow. This condition is often treatable. In many cases, recovery takes 7-10 days.


© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The most common causes of aseptic meningitis are:

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing aseptic meningitis:

  • Being exposed to someone with a viral illness
  • Working in a daycare or healthcare setting
  • Having a compromised immune system
  • Taking certain medicines (eg, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Being a child or teenager (affects children and teens more often than adults)

Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.


If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to meningitis. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

  • Headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Stiff neck
  • General feeling of illness
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Muscle or abdominal pain
  • Mental confusion
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea or vomiting


Your doctor will:

  • Ask about your symptoms and medical history
  • Do a physical exam
  • Do tests, such as:
    • Blood tests
    • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)—removal of a small amount of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord to test for signs of infection and inflammation
    • MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the brain
    • CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the brain


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

  • Supportive care—Your doctor may recommend that you rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may need to be hospitalized to be monitored and to stay hydrated.
  • Medicine—If specific causes of meningitis are suspected, your doctor may recommend that you take:
    • Antiviral medicine
    • Antibiotics
    • Pain medicine (eg, acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
      • Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of Reye's syndrome. Ask your doctor which other medicines are safe for your child.


To help reduce your chance of getting aseptic meningitis, take the following steps:

  • Wash your hands often, especially if you:
    • Are in close contact with a person who has an infection
    • Changed the diaper of an infant with an infection
  • If you work in a childcare or healthcare setting, clean objects and surfaces.
  • Be sure all of your vaccinations are up-to-date.