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  • Some types of meningitis take a longer time to heal or treat because of two factors: the nature of the disease and/or the type of medication that is involved
  • Treatment protocols for non-infectious meningitis really depend on what caused the disease in the first place, whether it’s cancer or a head or brain injury
 

How Long Does Meningitis Last?

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The type of meningitis that a person is diagnosed with plays a big role in determining how long the disease takes its toll. Some types of meningitis take a longer time to heal or treat because of two factors: the nature of the disease and/or the type of medication that is involved.

Viral Meningitis

People who have this condition typically get better on their own within seven to 10 days. This is because the infections that cause viral meningitis are usually fairly mild, and can go away without treatment.1 There are instances, however, when hospitalization may be required, especially among:2

  • People who develop severe illness/es
  • People who are at risk for having severe illness/es
  • People with weakened immune systems

Bacterial Meningitis

Those who have bacterial meningitis may experience the symptoms either quickly or over several days — around three to seven days after exposure to the bacteria.3

It is important for treatment to be administered quickly once the symptoms manifest on you or someone you know, as bacterial meningitis is considered to be a medical emergency.4

Unfortunately, if the bacterial meningitis rapidly progresses within 24 hours or less, patients with the disease may potentially pass away, even if proper treatment is given.5

Should the patient survive, he or she may need to be hospitalized, especially if the disease is already so severe that antibiotics are compulsory.6 Once the patient is given initial treatment, relief from the disease can occur in 48 to 72 hours.

However, bacterial meningitis could also trigger complications that affect the patient (and possibly result in longer hospitalization time), such as:7

Hearing and/or speech loss

Blindness

Permanent brain and nerve damage

Behavioral changes

Cognitive disabilities

Lack of muscle control

Seizures

Memory loss

Should a patient experience these complications, the physician may recommend long-term therapy, medication and supportive care.

Fungal Meningitis

While there is no definite duration known for fungal meningitis, the length of treatment depends on two aspects: the type of fungus that triggered the disease and the state of the patient’s immune system.8 People affected with fungal meningitis should expect hospitalization and maintenance treatment over a long period of time.9

Parasitical Meningitis

This parasite-caused brain infection is known to develop rapidly for one to 12 days on average, and symptoms typically appear one to seven days after the infection. Just like with bacterial meningitis, it’s important for people who exhibit symptoms of parasitical meningitis to be treated immediately, since most cases are fatal.10

In a National Geographic article, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) epidemiologist Jonathan Yoder states that parasitic infections often result in a coma and death after roughly five days.11

Non-Infectious Meningitis

Sadly, there is not much information on how long non-infectious meningitis can affect a patient. However, it should be noted that most people can potentially heal from the disease within one to two weeks.12 Treatment protocols for non-infectious meningitis really depend on what caused the disease in the first place, whether it’s cancer or a head or brain injury.13

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