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Understanding Chronic Meningitis: Causes, Complications, and Prevention Strategies

Updated: Apr 13

Summary: Chronic meningitis is a slow-developing inflammation of the brain coverings that can cause long-term effects, such as hearing loss, seizures, vision loss, and memory problems. Parents can protect their children by ensuring they receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, practicing good hygiene, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Treatment options include antibiotics, corticosteroids, acetaminophen, anticonvulsants, oxygen therapy, fluids, and sedatives. Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms such as fever, severe headache, confusion, vomiting, or stiff neck occur.

What is Chronic Meningitis?

Chronic meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges or the coverings of the brain that develops slowly over a period of two weeks or more. This causes swelling in the central nervous system, affecting the entire body and potentially causing long-term effects. The symptoms often include headache, nausea, vomiting, cranial neuropathies, symptoms of elevated intracranial pressure, or focal neurologic deficits. There are numerous causes of chronic meningitis, including infectious, inflammatory, tumors, and toxic exposures. Infectious causes are bacteria, mycobacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Noninfectious causes include but are not limited to, sarcoidosis, Behçet's disease (BD), Wegener's granulomatosis (WG), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), medications, and neoplasms.

What are the long-term complications of Chronic Meningitis?

The most common complication associated with meningitis is hearing loss - which may be partial or total. People who have had meningitis usually have a hearing test after a few weeks to check for abnormalities. Other possible complications are [1]

  • Recurrent seizures(epilepsy)

  • Partial or complete vision loss

  • Memory and concentration issues resulting in learning difficulties

  • Behavioral problems

  • Coordination defects

  • Arthritis

  • Kidney disease

Sadly, despite timely intervention, some children continue to have brain damage following chronic meningitis. Taking the right measures to prevent the occurrence of meningitis in your child is the single best way to protect them from a lifetime of disability.

How can you protect your child from Meningitis?


Although meningitis affects all ages, children are most at risk. While newborns are at risk of getting infected by bacteria like Group B Streptococcus, young children are mostly affected by Meningococcus, Pneumococcus, and Haemophilus influenzae. Adolescents and young adults in particular are at risk for meningococcal disease.

Therefore, the CDC recommends all children between the ages of 11 and 12 be given a single dose of the Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MenACWY), followed by a booster dose when they turn 16. If the first dose is given between the ages of 13 and 15, the booster dose may be given between 16 to 18 years of age. If the first dose is given after a child has turned 16, no booster is necessary.

The Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine may be recommended for some children between the ages of 2 months and 10 years if they are believed to be at risk for chronic meningitis or have been exposed to someone with the disease. Kids older than 11 who haven't been vaccinated must be immunized, especially if they're going to college, boarding school, camp, or other places where they'll live in close quarters with others. [2]

General precautions:

Keep these things in mind-

  • Wash your hands. Careful hand-washing helps prevent the spread of germs. Teach children to wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the toilet, spending time in a crowded public place, or petting animals. Show them how to vigorously and thoroughly wash and rinse their hands.

  • Practice good hygiene. Don't share drinks, foods, straws, eating utensils, lip balms, or toothbrushes with anyone else. Teach children and teens to avoid sharing these items too.

  • Cover your mouth. When you need to cough or sneeze, be sure to cover your mouth and nose. Teach children and teens to keep this in mind while sneezing or coughing.

  • Stay healthy. Maintain your immune system by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Today’s children eat outside food instead of home food, so their parents take care of their child so that he/she eats healthy food at home.

What are the treatments for Chronic Meningitis?

Pediatricians use the following treatments to manage Chronic Meningitis

  • Antibiotics: These are usually given intravenously.

  • Corticosteroids: These may be given if inflammation is causing pressure in the brain, to prevent long-term damage, but studies show conflicting results.

  • Acetaminophen, or paracetamol: Together with cool sponge baths, cooling pads, fluids, and room ventilation, these reduce fever.

  • Anticonvulsants: If the patient has seizures, an anticonvulsant, such as phenobarbital or Dilantin, may be used.

  • Oxygen therapy: Oxygen will be administered to assist with breathing.

  • Fluids: Intravenous fluids can prevent dehydration, especially if the patient is vomiting or cannot drink.

  • Sedatives: These will calm the patient if they are irritable or restless. [3]

When should you seek immediate medical attention?

Seek immediate medical care if you or someone in your family has meningitis signs or symptoms, such as:

  • Fever

  • Severe, unrelenting headache

  • Confusion

  • Vomiting

  • Stiff neck

It's also important to talk to your doctor if a family member or someone you live or work with has meningitis. You may need to take medications to protect yourself and your child from getting infected. [4]




  3. [scribd id=530513990 key=key-gmRGoVhOPChLjI25U4QW mode=scroll]


Author: Mr.Nikhil Sharma

Editor: Dr.Manognya Chekragari

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