Meningitis in Infants and Children
What are the treatments for the infection?
The primary treatment for meningitis is antibiotic therapy, which is often given through an intravenous, or IV, line. One or more of the following antibiotics may be given:
Other treatments, such as the following, may be given:
acetaminophen to reduce fever
corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone, to reduce inflammation
intravenous fluids to prevent or treat dehydration
medicines to stop seizures if they occur
The length of treatment depends on the cause of the meningitis and the age of the child. Treatment generally lasts from 1 to 3 weeks.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antibiotics may cause allergic reactions, kidney damage, or liver damage. Corticosteroids may increase the risk of bleeding in the gut or worsen the infection. Medicines to stop seizures may cause low blood pressure or allergic reactions.
What happens after treatment for the infection?
A child may feel weak and tired for several weeks after the meningitis goes away. It may take weeks or months for normal brain function to return in children who went into a coma during the illness. Some children may have permanent brain damage. This can cause deafness or problems in school or later in life. Children who survive very serious meningitis may have severe mental retardation.
How is the infection monitored?
The child will have checkups for years after the illness to look for problems with vision, hearing, or movement. Mental functioning is also monitored to detect mental retardation or learning disabilities. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.