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Meningitis is swelling of the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. A higher number of white blood cells is present during aseptic meningitis (AM). But the exact cause cannot be found.
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AM may stem from:
- Partially treated bacterial meningitis
- Problems with the immune system
- Certain cancers
- Certain medicines, such as antibiotics
Your risk is higher if you have any of the problems listed above.
Other factors are:
- Being around someone who has been sick
- The season—common in the summer and early fall
- Working in a daycare or healthcare setting
Symptoms range from mild to severe. You may have:
- Fever and chills
- Sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck
- Nausea or vomiting
- Joint or muscle pain
- Belly pain
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history.
You may need to have:
- A physical
- Blood tests
- Lumbar puncture —to test the fluid around your brain and spine
Pictures may be taken. This can be done with:
Most people get better with time. Care depends on the cause. It may involve:
- Medicines to treat the cause of the infection
- Pain relievers
- Steroids to lower inflammation
Your doctor will stop any medicines that are causing problems.
Note: Aspirin is not advised for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
To lower your chance of AM:
Wash your hands
often, especially if you:
- Are around a person who has an infection
- Changed the diaper of an infant with an infection
- If you work in a childcare or healthcare setting, clean objects and surfaces
- Be sure all of your vaccinations are up-to-date
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Meningitis Association
Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada
Aseptic meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113810/Aseptic-meningitis . Updated September 26, 2017. Accessed June 18, 2018.
Ginsberg L, Kidd D. Chronic and recurrent meningitis. Pract Neurol. 2008;8(6):348-361.
Jolles S, Sewell WA, Leighton C. Drug-induced aseptic meningitis: diagnosis and management. Drug Saf. 2000;22(3):215-226.
Meningococcal disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/index.html. Updated March 28, 2017. Accessed June 18, 2018.
Norris C, Danis P, Gardner T. Aseptic meningitis in the newborn and young infant. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(10):2761-2770.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 05/2018
- Update Date: 06/14/2018