Viral meningitis is a serious illness that can be fatal if left untreated. Anyone can develop meningitis, but there are some things that cause it or make a person more likely to get it or more at risk for it. Knowing the common causes of viral meningitis can help you avoid them, so you are less likely to develop it.
Viral meningitis is caused by other viruses that get in the body and then make their way through the bloodstream and to the brain or spinal fluid. Once in the brain, it causes encephalitis and irritates the meninges, causing them to swell.
Symptoms may come on suddenly or overtime. Some people confuse the symptoms of meningitis with those of other illnesses and viruses, and many people can suffer from the condition while the virus that caused it is still in their system.
Here are some common causes of viral meningitis.
These viruses are the most common causes of viral meningitis. They create infections that have very mild or no symptoms, which make it easier for meningitis to develop. If they do create symptoms, they are usually those associated with the common cold such as a sore throat, stomach ache, or diarrhea. A person may have the virus and not even know it. If left untreated, they can turn into meningitis. These viruses commonly affect children and are often spread in schools, daycares, summer camps, and even college dorms.
The viruses are usually spread in the summer months and early fall. They are spread by mouth and hand. There are many strains of these viruses so vaccinations cannot prevent them completely. Most people will be exposed to these viruses many times in their lives but will not develop meningitis.
People who have problems with their immune systems or other underlying health problems are more likely to develop meningitis after being exposed to these viruses than a healthy person.