(VY-rul meh-nin-JY-tus) is an inflammation of the meninges caused by a virus.
More to Know
Meningitis happens when the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain
and spinal cord, become infected, usually by bacteria
or viruses. Viral meningitis (also called aseptic meningitis) is fairly common
and usually less serious than bacterial
Viruses that infect the skin, urinary
tract, or digestive and respiratory systems can spread via the bloodstream to
the meninges through cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that circulates in and around
the spinal cord.
Children with viral meningitis may have a fever, headache, sensitivity to
light, fatigue, fussiness, nausea, neck stiffness, and vomiting. Because all of these
symptoms look very similar to a common flu, it is not always easy to diagnose viral
meningitis. To identify it, doctors may do a lumbar puncture
(spinal tap) to get a sample of CSF for testing.
There is no specific treatment for viral meningitis, but most people recover completely
on their own within 7-10 days.
Keep in Mind
Viral meningitis is generally less serious than bacterial meningitis. Although
severe cases may require hospital visits, viral meningitis often can be treated at
home with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain medicine.
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