Meningitis Sign Symptom Cause Treatment and Nursing Management

Meningitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Nursing Management


What is Meningitis?

  • Meningitis is derived from Greek word “Meninx” which means membrane.
  • Meninges are membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
  • Meninges three layers – Dura mater
  • Arachnoid membrane
  • Pia mater.

Definition of Meningitis 

Meningitis is an inflammation of the outer covering membrane of the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Laptomeningitis is inflammation in the arachnoid and pia mater layer. Meningitis infection spread in the brain and affects brain function, is called Encephalitis.

Tried symptoms of meningitis is a

    • Headache
    • Fever
    • Nuchal rigidity (stiffness of neck).
  • Encephalomyelitis – inflammation of both the brain and spinal cord.

Types of meningitis  

  1. Aseptic meningitis  

  • Septic meningitis is a bacterial meningitis.
  • Septic meningitis occurs due to organism bacteria and infection.
  1. Aseptic meningitis  

  • It is viral meningitis.
  • Aseptic meningitis due to chronic irritation of the meninges layer of the brain and spinal cord.
  1. Tuberculin meningitis  

Causes of Meningitis

  • Bacteria, viruses, fungus and amoeba are causative agents of meningitis.
  • Bacterial meningitis cause

  • E-coli.

In children – Neisseria meningitides

  • H influenza ( haemophilus )
    • In adult – streptococcus pneumoniae
    • In poor peoples – mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Viral meningitis cause – coxsackievirus

  • Herpes virus
  • HIV virus
  • Arbb virus
  • Poliovirus.
  • Cryptococcal meningitis is a common fungal form.

Risk factors of Meningitis

  • Upper respiratory tract infection.
  • Age – viral meningitis within 5 year age and bacterial meningitis under 20 years old.
  • ENT infection.
  • Compromised immune system.
  • Low economic status.
  • Overcrowded area.
  • Medications that suppress immunity.
  • Head and spinal injury.
  • Cellulitis.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Head and spinal cord surgical procedure.
  • AIDS, diabetes, pneumonia.

Pathophysiology of Meningitis

Cause / risk factors / infection

Inflammatory reaction in meninges

Increased intracranial pressure (ICP)

Meningeal layers irritations


Mode of transmission of Meningitis

  • Droplet transmission
  • Direct contact
  • Airborne transmission.

Sign/symptoms of  Meningitis 

  • Tried symptoms of meningitis – fever, headache, stiffness of the neck.
  • Positive kerning’s sign and Brzezinski’s sign.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Altered level of consciousness.
  • Confusion and disorientation.
  • Photophobia – irritation due to light.
  • Phono phobia – irritation due to sound.
  • Increased ICP and seizures.
  • Restlessness and irritability.
  • High grade fever.
  • Tachycardia and tachypnea.
  • Red macular rashes on skin.
  • Coma, malaise.
  • Abdominal and chest pain.

Diagnosis of Meningitis

  • History collection and physical examination.
  • Positive kerning sign and brudzinski’s sign.
  • CSF test.
  • Lumbar puncture examination.
  • CT scan and MRI.
  • Blood culture test.
  • Complete blood culture ( CBC )
  • Monitor ICP level.
  • Chest x ray.
  • Urine analysis test.

Kerning’s sign

When a patient lying and thigh is flexed at the hip and knee at 90° angles, and subsequent extension of the knee is very painful.

Brudzinski’s sign –

Place the patient in supine position, flux the patient’s head upward, resulting in flexion of both hips, ankles and knees with the flexion of the neck.

Meningitis Treatment-

  • Analgesic drugs – for pain control.
  • Anticonvulsants – to prevent and treat seizures.
  • Corticosteroids – reduce inflammation and brain swelling.
  • Antiemetics – for vomiting.
  • Antipyretic drugs – to reduce fever.
  • Sedative drugs – for restlessness or irritability.
  • Diuretics drugs – osmotic diuretics.
  • Antibiotics – penicillin G.
  • Antimicrobial therapy – cefotaxime, ceftriaxone.

Complications in Meningitis 

  • Cerebral oedema
  • Hearing loss
  • Brain damage
  • Gait problem
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Shock and death
  • Memory altered.

Meningitis Nursing Management

  • Monitor vital signs and physical examination.
  • Nurse monitors the level of ICP and the patient’s level of consciousness.
  • Isolate the patient (respiratory isolation).
  • Provide calm, quiet, dark and cool environment.
  • Nurses follow the barrier of nursing to prevent infection.
  • Nurse assessed kerning’s and brudzinski signs.
  • Nurse maintains the seizures precautions.
  • Administer all prescribed medication and IV fluids.
  • Administer oxygen and airway clearance.
  • Provide appropriate position to maintain ICP (head end elevated 20 – 30 degree angle)
  • Nurses provide supportive care to patients.
  • Nurses maintain patient nutrition status and prevent malnutrition.
  • Nurses maintain respiratory isolation, because meningitis transfers through the droplet route.
  • Encourage patients to maintain hygiene.
  • Provide health education.

General FAQ about meningitis

what is the first sign of meningitis?

these three Symptoms are shown firstly in meningitis tried symptoms of meningitis – fever, headache, and stiffness of the neck.

What are the Outer covering membrane of the brain and spinal cord?


What is the Middle layer of meninges?

Arachnoid membrane.

What is Meningitis?

Inflammation in the meninges membrane is called – Meningitis.

What is Encephalitis?

Meningitis inflammation spread into the brain is called – Encephalitis.

What is Dura matter?

The outer layer of meninges membrane – Dura matter.

What is Encephalomyelitis?

Inflammation of both the brain and spinal cord is called – Encephalomyelitis.

What is Septic meningitis?

Bacterial meningitis is a – Septic meningitis.

What is Aseptic meningitis?

Viral meningitis is a – Aseptic meningitis.

What is the most common cause of meningitis?

Bacteria is the most common cause of meningitis.

What is the Common cause of meningitis in adults?

The common cause of meningitis in adults – Is streptococcus pneumonia.

What is the most common mode of meningitis transmission?

The most common mode of meningitis transmission – Droplet transmission.

What is a Positive sign of meningitis?

The positive sign of meningitis is – Brudzinski and kerning’s sign.

What is Photophobia?

Photophobia is a disorder of – Light.

What is Phono phobia?

Phono phobia is a disorder of – Sound.

Difference between Photophobia and Phono phobia?

Photophobia is a disorder of – Light.
Phono phobia is a disorder of – Sound.

What is the Most common diagnostic procedure for meningitis?

The most common diagnostic procedure for meningitis is – Lumbar puncture.

What is the Common diagnosis for seizures?

Common diagnosis for seizures – EEG.

What is the most common position during elevated ICP?

Common position during elevated ICP – 20 – 30° head elevated.

What have Tried symptoms of meningitis?

Tried symptoms of meningitis – Fever, headache, and stiffness of the neck.

What is the First nursing action in meningitis?

The first nursing action in meningitis is – Isolate the patient.

Meningitis requires which type of isolation?

Meningitis requires – Respiratory isolations.

The most common virus responsible for meningitis

The most common virus responsible for meningitis – is Coxsackievirus.

Which type of environment is suitable for meningitis patients?

In Meningitis patients most suitable environment is- Calm, dark, and cool environment.

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