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Neurological condition-Meningitis in Children

Neurological condition-Meningitis in Children


This paper seeks to discuss the condition of meningitis as found in children, its signs and symptoms, major forms of meningitis, treatment and finally the role of nurses in providing care and support to the affected child and their family. Chavez-Bueno & McCracken, 2010). Meningitis refers to the irritation of the meninges caused by Viruses, bacteria, other micro-organisms and is characterized by high fever, headache, muscles become rigid, sensitivity to light and may lead to delirium, convulsions and even death(

Meningitis exists in different forms depending on the causes:

Bacterial Meningitis

Chavez-Bueno & McCracken, 2010). and is one of the life threatening forms of bacteria if immediate medical care is not provided. It can be protected and treated by vaccines(Streptococcus pneumoniae This is caused by bacteria such as

Viral meningitis

This is caused by viruses such as the herpes simplex and is often less severe. People with strong immune systems usually get better on their own. Can be prevented by the use of vaccines.

Fungal meningitis

This is caused by inhaling fungal spores such as Histoplasma from the environment. People with medical conditions such as HIV and cancer are at a higher risk of fungal meningitis.

Parasitic meningitis

This is caused by parasites and affects mostly the nervous system and the brain. It is less common than the other forms of meningitis (Vogev& Guzman-Cottrill, 2011).

Amebic meningitis

It is cause by the ameba NaegleriaFowleri and is found in natural soils and water. It is a rare form of meningitis and affects mostly the brain.

Non-infectious Meningitis

There are some cases where meningitis is not spread from one person to another, instead, it can be caused by some medical conditions such as cancer, the use of certain drugs or head injury and head surgery.

Meningitis in children

Children between birth and 2 years have the highest risk of contracting meningitis. The reason why children are mostly affected is because of increased exposure to infections which are present at birth and increases the risk of the infant to meningitis (Chavez-Bueno & McCracken, 2010).

Signs and symptoms

In infants, the signs and symptoms may not be obvious due to the fact that the infant cannot communicate. However, parents and other caregivers need to be very careful and pay close attention to the overall condition of the infants. As the infants grow, it becomes easy to identify the signs and symptoms, which include the following: poor feeding habits, vomiting, rashes, irritability, stiff neck, low temperatures, yellowing of skin, commonly known as jaundice, low blood sugar, headache, nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, among other related signs and symptoms (Vogev& Guzman-Cottrill, 2011).

Signs and symptoms of viral meningitis are almost similar to those of flu, which include headache, cough, fever and muscle aches. The caregiver to the child should take immediate action if he or sees some of the mentioned signs and symptoms and ensure that the child undergoes medical evaluation. Meningitis requires emergency treatment, thus, it is recommended that the child be taken directly to the emergency department, rather than at the doctor’s office (Vogev& Guzman-Cottrill, 2011).


Some forms of meningitis such as bacterial meningitis require emergency treatment and thus once the signs and symptoms described above are observed in the child, the child should be taken to an emergency treatment. Various tests are recommended and are performed in the hospital. A sample of blood is taken from the child so as to determine if there is any form of bacteria in the blood. Normally, no bacteria is supposed to be present on the blood. The other tests is known as the Lumbar puncture whereby a needle is used to extract some spinal fluid in the area around the spinal cord. After this, various tests, are done so as to determine the type of bacteria or virus present and then best antibiotic treatment. Sometimes, imaging tests need to be undertaken, for instance, a CT scan. This is done before the lumbar puncture so as to determine if it is safe for the child to undergo the tests and also determine if there are any other forms of symptoms of another sort of disease (Paul &Lamont, 2012).


The treatment of meningitis depends on the cause; whether virus or a bacterium. In many cases, the affected child is treated as if they are suffering from bacterial meningitis until it’s completely excluded. The reason behind this is that bacterial meningitis is very dangerous as it may extend to a serious illness and even death if there are delays in treating bacterial meningitis (Donald, 2016).

Bacterial meningitis is one the most dangerous illnesses that require emergency treatment and the use of intravenous antibiotics. The child with the symptoms identified above should be monitored closely by the doctor and upon identification of the kind of meningitis, treatment is then sought. Depending on the severity of the illness, the child needs to be supported in breathing, as well as with maintain blood pressure within the favorable levels. Also cases of excessive bleeding should be prevented. Also, the child should be kept hydrated (Donald, 2016)

Treatment with antibiotics is usually commenced immediately after the tests have been performed and is done intravenously. The use of oral antibiotics is not allowed. The length of treatment depends on the results of the bacterial cultures. For instance, if the bacterial cultures ae negative, it means that the child’s condition has improved and then the antibiotic treatment can be discontinued after 48 to 72 hours. On the other hand, if the cultures are positive, it may mean that there are complications and the treatment can be continued for several days or even weeks (Vogev& Guzman-Cottrill, 2011).

When it comes to viral meningitis, there is no medication that can help eliminate the virus that cause viral meningitis. A child suffering from viral meningitis requires support in the form of rest, giving him adequate water or other fluids as well as normal medications that cause fever and headache(Donald, 2016).

The role of nurses in providing care and support for the child and thefamily

Meningitis, especially bacterial meningitis requires further attention by both the child as well as the parents, and this is expected to be the main role of nurses in hospitals. They all require continued support as well as more information about the disease especially after diagnosis, and this is left in the hands of nurses. Nurses also play a role in determining the immunization status of the child especially those under the age of four. If the child has never been immunized, the child should be subjected to the full process of immunization by a nurse. The relevant vaccines should be provided to the child as soon as possible and this should be done before the child is treated of meningitis (Vogev& Guzman-Cottrill, 2011).

Nurses should encourage the child and the family and assure them of recovery at the end of the treatment process. After the child has been treated, nurses are supposed to explain and expound on anything that the child and the parents do not understand, on the antibiotics as well as the care that should be offered to the child at home. Also, minor cases of consultation can be provided by the nurses and then be recommended to the doctor, if need be (Chavez-Bueno & McCracken, 2010).


Meningitis is majorly caused by bacteria, virus or fungi, with each case having a different form of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis has been identified as one of the most serious forms of meningitis and affects mostly the children. Meningitis requires immediate medical attention once the mentioned signs and symptoms are identified in the child. Treatment involves the use of antibiotics as well as continued care and support offered by the nurses (Chavez-Bueno & McCracken, 2010).


Chavez-Bueno S, & McCracken G., (2010). Bacterial meningitis in children. PediatrClin North Am. (52), 795-810.

Donald, P. (2016). Handbook of Child and Adolescent Tuberculosis, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Paul S, & Lamont L. (2012). Clear and present danger in childhood meningitis. The importance of Hib immunization in infancy and high risk groups. J FAM Health Care. 22(2).

Vogev R, & Guzman-Cottrill J. (2011). Bacterial meningitis in children: critical review of current concepts. (65). 1097-112.