Meningitis: Top 5 Drugs That Work

Thursday, 11 Nov 2010 10:13 AM

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Meningitis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord, may be due to infection by various viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Prevention through meningitis vaccine can be much easier than looking for a meningitis cure, but a number of drugs and therapies can treat this life-threatening disease.
 
Meningitis vaccines such as the recently FDA approved Menvio from Novartis are available; they can be administered alone or combined with vaccines such as the HIB vaccine that reduces early childhood incidence of meningitis.
 
Here are the top five meningitis drug treatment options for different forms of meningitis, which can range from a temporary illness to a potentially life-threatening situation:
  1. Cefalosporin, Cefatoxime, or Ceftriaxone: As the first line of defense, these wide-spectrum antibiotics are recommended for the initial treatment for bacterial meningitis, even before the results of lumbar puncture and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis determine the appropriate meningitis treatment.
  2. Vancomycin and Ampicillin: In the U.S., where streptococci are becoming increasingly resistant to cephalosporins, the addition of Vancomycin to the initial treatment is recommended. Ampicillin is also recommended to cover Listeria monocytogenes.
  3. Dexamethasone: Usually recommended for pneumococcal meningitis, corticosteroids such as dexamethasone are used as a meningitis treatment for children and adults. This meningitis drug therapy has been known to reduce the incidence of mortality, hearing loss, and other neurological damage caused by meningitis. Their predominant use is for controlling inflammation.
  4. Aciclovir: This new drug is used to treat symptoms of viral meningitis. Mild cases of viral meningitis may be treated with other conservative measures such as taking a fluid diet, bed rest, and painkillers. This treatment for meningitis is a supportive therapy. Control of fever, pain, nausea, and vomiting is essential for riding through the course of simple viral meningitis. Using a drug such as Ondansetron (Zofran) that blocks serotonin has proven effective for patients who do not respond well to normal anti-nausea treatments.
  5. Flucytosine and Amphotericin B: Both these drugs are highly efficient for the treatment of fungal meningitis such as cryptococcal meningitis; however, they are still considered highly toxic. Therefore, even while the use of antifungal drugs such as flucytosine and amphotericin B helps in the treatment, caution and a physician’s monitoring is essential.

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