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Herpes Meningitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

herpes meningitis

Meningitis refers to a medical condition that causes inflammation of the three membrane layers that protect our brain and spinal cord. These membranous coverings are called meninges.

When a viral infection occurs on the meninges, it is identified as viral meningitis. One of the common infections that affect meninges is the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This is the reason herpes meningitis develops.

Defining “herpes meningitis”

HSV enables herpes meningitis to happen. It is the same virus that causes cold sore and genital herpes. When this infection happens in the meninges, complications are likely to happen in the central nervous system. Since this is a medical emergency, prompt treatment is necessary.

Without proper and immediate medical care, this condition can cause death. While there may be survivors, long-term medical concerns can happen later in their lives.

Form of transmission

Direct contact with an individual who has the virus is the most established way of transmission. It can transfer via sneezing and coughing. If you have direct contact with a contaminated surface, there is also a big chance you can acquire the infection.

Other than that, unsafe sexual intercourse also puts you at risk of viral transmission. Note that HSV can transfer through sexual contact. While treatments are available, outbreaks can still happen. Furthermore, complications like herpes meningitis can develop.

Herpes Meningiti signs and symptoms

The symptoms of herpes meningitis are similar to having the flu. That’s why it can be hard to diagnose based on symptoms. However, report your condition immediately to your healthcare professional if these signs occur to you.

  • Recurrent fever or chills
  • Severe pain in the neck
  • Mild to severe nausea
  • Recurrent vomiting
  • Loss of interest or appetite
  • Overfatigue
  • Extreme weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Light sensitivity
  • Severe headache
  • Irritability
  • Coughing and sneezing


How will you know if you have herpes meningitis?

Besides the appearance of symptoms, your healthcare professional will likely request a series of tests to know your accurate condition. These tests include stool samples, blood samples, or nasal swabs. Your healthcare professional will also examine your medical history. If herpes meningitis appears as the final diagnosis, you shall begin your treatment promptly.

What are the complications?

A severe health complication can happen if herpes meningitis progresses. This complication is what medical experts call herpes meningoencephalitis. This is a neurological problem associated with brain swelling and serious inflammation.

This complication needs immediate medical therapy. Without treatment, death can happen. Herpes meningoencephalitis causes severe brain damage affecting the entire nervous system.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment for herpes meningitis involves the usage of antiviral drugs. These are the same drugs used in treating HSV-acquired diseases. However, if herpes meningitis becomes severe, hospital admission is necessary.

How do you prevent herpes meningitis acquisition? Simple. Avoid taking actions that cause you to acquire HSV. Some of these actions include using protective barriers like a condom during sexual intercourse, abstaining from kissing someone who has active HSV symptoms, avoiding having multiple sexual partners, and keeping your surfaces clean and sanitary.

When to contact your healthcare professional?

As mentioned, the symptoms of herpes meningitis are flu-like. However, contact your healthcare professional at once if these symptoms and bodily reactions persist for a long time. Other than that, if you are previously diagnosed with herpes-related conditions and you experience ill effects on different parts of your body, obtain immediate medical care before it’s too late.

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