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.
The most common causes of aseptic meningitis are:
- Viral infection due to:
- Parasitic infection (eg,
- Mycoplasma (a type of pneumonia)
- Fungal infection
Bacterial meningitisthat has not been fully treated
- Certain medicines
- Autoimmune diseases (eg,
sarcoidosis, Behcet’s disease)
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:
- Fever and chills
- Stiff neck
- General feeling of illness
- Sore throat
- 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
- Pain medicine (eg, acetaminophen
- 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:
- Are in close contact with a person who has an infection
- Changed the diaper of an infant with an infection
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada
Alan R. Viral meningitis. EBSCO Patient Education Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=16&topicID=1034. Updated October 2009. Accessed February 16, 2010.
Aseptic meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 20, 2010. Accessed February 5, 2010.
Aseptic meningitis in the newborn and young infant. American Family Physician website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/990515ap/2761.html. Published May 15, 1999. Accessed February 5, 2010.
Aseptic Meningitis website. Available at: http://asepticmeningitis.org/. Accessed February 5, 2010.
Ginsberg L, Kidd D. Chronic and recurrent meningitis. Pract Neurol. 2008;8(6):348-361.
Meningitis questions and answers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/about/faq.html. Accessed February 5, 2010.
Last reviewed March 2010 by
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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