Meningitis in Children (cont.)
Because meningitis is a potentially life-threatening infection, therapy may begin before all of the tests are performed and prior to having all of the results available.
- If any indication of respiratory distress is present, a breathing tube (intubation) may be needed to provide oxygen to help the child breathe.
- A heart and breathing monitor is connected to accurately monitor the child's vital signs (respiratory rate, oxygen level, heart rate and rhythm).
- An IV is started to give fluids and to correct any dehydration. An IV also helps to maintain blood pressure and good circulation.
- A tube (catheter) may be placed in the bladder to obtain urine and to help accurately measure the child's hydration.
- A child who has bacterial meningitis or is suspected to have
bacterial meningitis is admitted to the hospital. The type of monitoring, such as in a
pediatric intensive care unit, is determined by the doctor in the emergency department and the doctors who care for the child in the hospital.
- A child who has viral meningitis and is improving may be sent home for supportive therapy. Supportive therapy includes encouraging fluids to prevent dehydration and giving acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) for pain and fever. If the child is sent home, a doctor must check the child within 24 hours to make certain his or her condition has improved.
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