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General Practice 2023

Viral meningitis: what é, symptoms, transmission and treatment

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Viral meningitis: what é, symptoms, transmission and treatment
Viral meningitis: what é, symptoms, transmission and treatment

Viral meningitis is a serious illness that causes symptoms such as severe headache, fever and stiff neck, due to inflammation of the meninges, which are the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Viruses that can cause viral meningitis are enteroviruses such as echo, coxsackie and poliovirus, arbovirus, mumps virus, herpes simplex, herpes type 6, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, varicella zoster, measles, rubella, parvovirus, rotavirus, smallpox, HIV virus 1 and some viruses that affect respiratory function and that may be present in the nasal region.

This type of meningitis can be transmitted from one person to another, so it is important to adopt preventive measures, such as washing your hands and avoiding close contact with patients. Viral meningitis is usually curable and easier to treat than bacterial meningitis, with only analgesic and antipyretic drugs being needed to relieve symptoms.


Symptoms of viral meningitis

The main signs and symptoms indicative of viral meningitis are:

  • Fever above 38ÂșC;
  • Intense headache;
  • Stiffness in the back of the neck, so that it is difficult to move the neck and place the chin on the chest;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Increased sensitivity to light;
  • Irritability;
  • Difficulty waking up;
  • Decreased appetite.

In most cases, the symptoms of viral meningitis last between 7 to 10 days, and it is important that the treatment is carried out according to the doctor's recommendation, as it is possible to prevent the development of complications, especially when meningitis occurs before of the 1st year of life, in which there is a greater risk of having neurological problems.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of viral meningitis is made by the general practitioner, neurologist or infectious disease specialist, based on the evaluation of the signs and symptoms presented by the person, and a physical examination may also be performed, which consists of performing the mobilization of the neck to verify if the person can perform the movement and if there is pain.

However, the diagnosis is confirmed by performing laboratory tests, such as blood and urine tests and analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), mainly, which is the fluid that covers the nervous system. From the analysis of the CSF, it is possible to identify the agent responsible for the meningitis.

How the transmission happens

Viral meningitis can be caused by different types of viruses and, therefore, can be transmitted in different ways according to the virus responsible for the disease. However, in general, the main forms of transmission of viral meningitis are:

  • Sharing of glasses, plates and cutlery;
  • Cough, sneeze or saliva;
  • Take your hands to your eyes, nose or mouth after having contact with surfaces that contain the virus;
  • Close contacts with the infected person, such as kisses, handshakes;
  • Consumption of contaminated food and water;
  • Mosquito bites, in the case of arbovirus meningitis.

Normally the person with viral meningitis does not need to be hospitalized in isolation, but if the doctor thinks that it is better for the person not to have close contact with others, for their own recovery to be faster, this indication may be given..

Treatment of viral meningitis

Treatment for viral meningitis can be done at home and is intended to relieve symptoms, as there is no specific antiviral drug to treat meningitis, except when it is caused by the Herpes Zoster virus, in which Acyclovir may be recommended by the doctor.

Thus, to promote the relief of symptoms, the use of analgesic and antipyretic drugs, such as Paracetamol, may be indicated, in addition to being recommended that the person rest and drink plenty of fluids during the day. In severe cases, the treatment of viral meningitis must be done in the hospital so that the patient receives medication and serum through the vein, in order to relieve the symptoms until the virus is eliminated from the body.

Treatment of viral meningitis usually lasts about 7 to 10 days and it is important that during this period the patient takes some care to avoid the transmission of meningitis. Care is to wear a mask, not share food, drinks or personal objects, such as cutlery or toothbrush, and wash your hands frequently.

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