Meningitis happens when the spinal column and brain’s lining become inflamed. This lining is called the meninges. Aseptic meningitis occurs when there are signs of meningitis. However, when a sample of brain fluid is taken, bacteria or fungi are not seen or do not grow.



Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The most common causes of aseptic meningitis are:

  • Viral infection due to:     
  • Enteroviruses, such as Coxsackie virus
  • Sexually transmitted disease, such as herpes and HIV
  • Other viruses, varicella/zoster, rabies , mumps , and arboviruses like West Nile virus
  • Parasitic infection, such as Lyme disease
  • Mycoplasma, an usual bacteria that can cause pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bacterial meningitis that has not been fully treated
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, sarcoidosis , and Behcet’s disease
  • Cancer that has spread to the meninges
  • Infection near the spinal cord or brain
  • Certain medicines, such as ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Risk Factors

    Factors that can 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
  • Being a child or teenager—affects children and teens more often than adults
  • Taking certain medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of aseptic meningitis include.

  • 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
  • Diagnosis

    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:

  • Blood tests
  • Lumbar puncture —also called a spinal tap
  • You may have pictures taken of your brain. This can be done with:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Treatment

    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.
  • Medicine—If specific causes of meningitis are suspected, your doctor may advise that you take:     
  • Antiviral medicine—to treat a viral infection
  • Antibiotics—to treat infections
  • Antifungal medicine
  • Pain medication, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • In certain cases, your doctor may advise that you stop some medications.
  • Note : Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of Reye's syndrome . Ask your doctor which other medications are safe for your child.


    To help reduce your chance of getting aseptic meningitis, take the following steps:

  • 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.