Conditions + Treatments

Treatments for Meningitis in Children

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Contact the Division of Infectious Diseases

Early treatment with antibiotics can reduce swelling and inflammation in your child's brain. Timing is crucial. If your child has symptoms of bacterial meningitis, go to the nearest emergency room right away.

If someone is in close contact with a person who has bacterial meningitis, such as a roommate, parent, sibling, daycare worker, classmate, or boyfriend or girlfriend, they are at an increased risk and should go to the doctor for antibiotics to prevent bacterial meningitis before symptoms occur.

Traditional treatments for meningitis

Treatment depends on the type of meningitis, but can include:

Bacterial meningitis

  • intravenous (IV) antibiotics
  • the earlier the treatment starts, the better your outcome
  • antibiotics can start before the results of the lumbar puncture are available
  • a corticosteroid, or steroid, such as dexamethasone to decrease inflammation and reduce pressure that can build up in the brain

Viral meningitis

  • Tylenol can relieve symptoms.
  • With the exception of the herpes simplex virus, there are no medications to treat the organisms that cause viral meningitis.
  • Most children with viral meningitis recover on their own without treatment.

Fungal meningitis

  • anti-fungal intravenous (IV) medication

Tuberculosis (TB) meningitis

  • a long course (one year) of medications
  • usually involves several different medications for the first few months, followed by other medications
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