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Meningitis in Adults (cont.)

Self-Care at Home for Meningitis

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of meningitis is essential. Therefore, if you suspect that you or someone you know has meningitis based on the symptoms, seeking immediate medical attention is critical. If you cannot take the person to the hospital, it is advisable to call an ambulance.

  • Emergency care: While taking someone to the hospital's emergency department or waiting for an ambulance, basic treatment involves these procedures:
    • Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever.
    • Keep the person in a darkened, quiet area.
    • If the person is vomiting, lay the person on one side to prevent him or her from inhaling vomit.
  • Home care: Home care is only recommended if the person has mild viral meningitis, which can only be determined by a lumbar puncture. It is not appropriate to presume that symptoms of meningitis are due to a virus and to postpone medical care. All cases of meningitis need to be evaluated immediately in an emergency care setting. If the doctor determines that the person is suffering from mild viral meningitis, medications may be needed for control of headache and fever. This is often accomplished with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or stronger pain medications. Antibiotics are not helpful for viral meningitis.
    • If someone is sent home from the doctor with viral meningitis, it is essential for that person to be seen by his or her regular doctor in the next one to two days for a checkup.
    • When someone with viral meningitis is treated at home, watching for signs of a worsening condition is essential. If any of these occur, seek the care of a doctor immediately:
      • Profuse or uncontrollable vomiting
      • Worsening headache or fever
      • Seizures
      • Weakness or numbness of any extremities
      • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or walking
      • Confusion or excessive sleepiness
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2014

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