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Meningitis - What Happens

The course of meningitis often depends on your age, general health, and the organism causing the infection. The illness can range from mild to severe.

Viral meningitis is more common in the late summer and early fall. It usually doesn't cause serious illness. A visit to the doctor followed by home treatment may be all you need.

Recommended Related to Children's Vaccines

Hib (H. influenzae Type B) Vaccine

Despite its name, the bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib, does not cause the flu. It does, however, cause Hib disease, a serious health threat to children, especially those under age 5. Fortunately, the Hib vaccine, available since 1992, provides safe and effective protection against that threat.

Read the Hib (H. influenzae Type B) Vaccine article > >

You may get better within 2 weeks. But some people may feel lightheaded and tired for several months after the illness.

Bacterial meningitis occurs most often from late winter to early spring. It usually causes serious illness and can be life-threatening. The symptoms usually develop suddenly and last for 2 to 3 weeks. A person with bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics in a hospital.

Complications

Complications, short-term and long-term, are more common with bacterial than with viral meningitis. People with bacterial meningitis can die if not treated right away. People who are more likely to have these problems include:

The risk of dying from bacterial meningitis is also higher for adults who:1

  • Have seizures during the first 24 hours of illness.
  • Are in shock or in a coma when admitted to the hospital.
  • Can't breathe without help from a machine.

Most survivors recover completely.4

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 15, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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