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Viral Meningitis Overview

Viral meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges caused by the certain viruses. This form of meningitis is also known as aseptic meningitis. In case that there are no complications of viral meningitis the disease lasts up to 10 days. On the other hand if the infection spreads onto the brain and causes meningoencephalitis the course of the disease is much longer. Spread of the viruses can lead to either meningoencephalitis or meningomyelitis. In meningoencephalitis apart from meninges the process of inflammation affects the brain and in meningomyelitis the infection spreads onto the spinal cord.

In 85% of all patients suffering from viral meningitis culprits of the infection are non-polio enteroviruses. In rare occasions this form of meningitis is caused by mumps, polio or choriomeningitis viruses.

The doctor has to pay special attention while setting the diagnosis. Differential diagnosis in this case includes bacterial or fungal meningitis, meningitis caused by certain chemicals, meningitis carcinomatosus, granulomatosus diseases and a few more inflammatory conditions.

Complications of Viral Meningitis

A patient can suffer from numerous complications related to viral meningitis. In rather rare cases the diseases can lead to communicating hydrocephalus. Communicating hydrocephalus is a consequence of accumulation of inflammatory debris and obstruction of arachnoid granulations. This complication develops a few weeks after the onset of meningitis. The patients are treated with ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Sometimes hydrocephalus can develop acutely only a few hours or days after the start of meningitis. Acute hydrocephalus is brought under control by ventriculostomy and external elimination of the excessive fluid.

Unfortunately some patients develop neurological squelae. Viral meningitis can in some patients cause convulsions, sensorineural hearing loss, paralysis of cranial nerves, problems with learning, problems with vision and behavioral disorders. In children speech delay can be one of the potential complications.

Outlook of Viral Meningitis

This form of meningitis in general withdraws completely and the complications occur in rather rare cases. The disease lasts approximately 10 days.

Only in neonates viral meningitis can be fatal and even lead to lethal outcome. In little children the disease can cause neuromuscular damage. In case that apart from meningitis a patient develops inflammation of the pericardium or the liver the prognosis is not so good.

Prevention of Viral Meningitis

Prevention is the best cure, which also refers to viral meningitis. Timely vaccination can be a perfect protection against certain viruses. Adequate hygiene of the hands can help in prevention of numerous diseases including viral infections. And finally, avoidance of the people who are suffering from respiratory infections is one more preventive method.

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