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Bacterial meningitis in children: Dexamethasone and other measures to prevent neurologic complications

Sheldon L Kaplan, MD
Section Editors
Morven S Edwards, MD
Douglas R Nordli, Jr, MD
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


Bacterial meningitis continues to result in substantial morbidity and mortality, despite the availability of effective antimicrobial therapy. The risk of dying or of developing complications is related to the age and underlying condition of the patient, the causative pathogen, the severity and duration of illness at the time of presentation, and, occasionally, to delays in the initiation of antibiotic therapy. (See "Bacterial meningitis in children older than one month: Treatment and prognosis".)

Complications of bacterial meningitis can be divided into systemic and neurologic. Systemic complications are usually the consequence of the bacteremia that frequently accompanies meningitis. The neurologic complications of meningitis may be sudden or gradual in onset and can appear at any time after the onset of symptoms, including after the completion of therapy. (See "Bacterial meningitis in children older than one month: Clinical features and diagnosis", section on 'Complications' and "Bacterial meningitis in children: Neurologic complications".)

The neurologic complications of meningitis include:

Impaired mental status

Cerebral edema and increased intracranial pressure

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 28, 2017.
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