• Aseptic Meningitis


    Meningitis occurs when the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meninges) becomes inflamed. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord, has an increased number of white blood cells. Aseptic meningitis occurs when there are signs of meningitis without an identifiable disease-causing agent.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    The most common causes of aseptic meningitis are:

    Risk Factors

    Aseptic meningitis affects children and teens more than adults. Other factors that may increase your chance of developing aseptic meningitis include:
    • Being exposed to someone with a viral illness
    • The season—mostly occurs in late spring and summer
    • Working in a daycare or healthcare setting
    • Having a compromised immune system
    • Taking certain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or medications injected directly into the CSF


    Aseptic meningitis may cause:
    • Headache
    • Fever and chills
    • Stiff neck
    • General feeling of illness
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue
    • Rash
    • Muscle or abdominal pain
    • Mental confusion
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Nausea or vomiting


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    You may need to have samples taken of your bodily fluids. This can be done with:
    Imaging tests can evaluate the brain and surrounding structures. This can be done with:


    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Most cases of aseptic meningitis improve with time. Treatment options include:
    • Supportive care—Your doctor may recommend that you rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may need to be hospitalized to be monitored and to stay hydrated.
    • Medications—If specific causes of meningitis are suspected, your doctor may advise that you take:
      • Antivirals—for viral infection
      • Antibiotics—for bacterial infection
      • Antifungals—for fungal infection
      • Pain relievers—to relieve symptoms
      • Steroids—to reduce inflammation
    • In certain cases, your doctor may advise that you stop some medications.
    Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.


    To help reduce your chance of aseptic meningitis:
      Wash your hands often, especially if you:
      • Are in close contact with 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 http://www.cdc.gov

    National Meningitis Association http://www.nmaus.org


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada http://www.meningitis.ca


    Aseptic meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113810/Aseptic-meningitis. Updated October 20, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2016.

    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 April 1, 2014. Accessed May 29, 2014.

    Norris C, Danis P, Gardner T. Aseptic meningitis in the newborn and young infant. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(10):2761-2770.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.