Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"How can one cure meningitis?"


My teenage son was just diagnosed with viral meningitis, and the doctors are saying that we can't use antibiotics, because they're not effective in these cases. If that's true, how can we treat / cure it? What kind of recovery period should we expect?


Viral meningitis is a common condition. It is also known as aseptic meningitis (although this term also includes other meningitis that is not caused by a virus). It is a serious condition that requires medical attention.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Neurologists near you

I strongly encourage you to talk to your doctor. Meningitis is inflammation in the surroundings of the brain. As you can imagine, this is obviously a serious condition. However, what causes the meningitis is the real issue. Bacterial meningitis can occur in people of any age and this requires urgent antibiotic treatment. Without treatment this can cause lasting brain damage and death. Fungal meningitis (caused by a fungus) can be similarly dangerous. On the other hand, aseptic meningitis means that it lacks the more dangerous causes. This means some viruses or medicines. This inflammation occurs, but then heals on its own. There is no need for treatment. After 4-7 days, your body with decrease the inflammation itself. There is no specific treatment. As you can see there are major differences between the two broad categories of meningitis (there are other less common). The only way to tell the difference is to look at the fluid surrounding the brain--the CSF. This requires a lumbar puncture urgently to get the fluid. One last point, meningitis is inflammation surrounding the brain. This must be distinguished from encephalitis--inflammation of the brain which is a more serious condition. See your doctor. If the appropriate diagnosis has been made--then there should be rapid recovery. If not, you should urgently see your doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.