Meningitis is swelling of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. This is usually caused by an infection. The infection occurs most often in children, teenagers, and young adults. Also at risk are older adults and people who have long-term health problems, such as a weakened immune system.

There are two main kinds of meningitis:​

  • Viral meningitis, which is fairly common and does not cause serious illness. In severe cases, it can cause prolonged fever and seizures.

  • Bacterial meningitis, which is not as common, but is very serious. It needs to be treated right away to prevent brain damage and death.


Signs and symptoms in a child older than the age of two include:

  • Sudden high fever

  • Stiff neck

  • Seizures

  • Sleepiness or difficulty waking

  • Severe headache that seems different than normal

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Skin rash (sometimes, such as in meningococcal meningitis)

  • Headache with nausea or vomiting

  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating

  • No appetite or thirst

In new-borns, signs and symptoms may show the following way: ​

  • High fever

  • Inactivity or sluggishness

  • Constant crying

  • A bulge in the soft spot on top of a baby's head (fontanel)

  • Excessive sleepiness or irritability

  • Poor feeding

  • Stiffness in a baby's body and neck​

Inform your doctor at the Internal Medicine Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital if you or your child shows any of the above symptoms. The team will be able to quickly take action against it to control the symptoms and treat the disease.​​ ​
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

In the attempts to diagnose meningitis, your doctor will guide your child to undergo the following tests:

  • Blood cultures: to check if there is growth of micro-organisms, particularly bacteria

  • Imaging tests: Your doctor may ask for a Computerized Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan to assess for any swelling in the head/brain. X-rays and CT may show infection in the chest or any other parts of the body

  • Spinal tap: the cerebrospinal fluid will be sampled which may be sent for:

    CSF detailed report CSF culture and a special PCR test that detects multiple pathogens in a single test and is reported in hours​.​

Disclaimer: Kindly consult your physician before getting the above-mentioned tests.

In the event of detection of bacterial meningitis, you or your child will need immediate treatment. Your doctor will prescribe intravenous medications, including antibiotics. This will help in ensuring that the patient does not experience any more seizures and the brain swelling is reduced.

If viral meningitis is diagnosed, it cannot be treated with medications. It has to be left to lead its own course before it disappears from the body. Your doctor may suggest the following supportive remedies to manage the symptoms: 

  • Bed rest

  • Nutritious diet

  • Medicines to treat symptoms like pain and fever​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.