Chemical Meningitis

All About Chemical Meningitis

Many people are aware of meningitis but are unaware of the rare form—chemical meningitis. Meningitis is very serious and should be tended to as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood of permanent adverse affects. The specific type of meningitis tends to fall back on the cause. Although all types may exhibit common symptoms, the cause of the meningitis will be key to a successful treatment plan. Throughout the remainder of this article we will examine all you need to know about chemical meningitis causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Inside your brain are layers to protect it from damage and disease, called meninges. When these layers become inflamed, a very dangerous condition known as meningitis occurs. Meningitis spreads very rapidly and can quickly incapacitate the victim by placing pressure on the brain and spinal cord. As mentioned above, the type of meningitis that strikes the brain varies based on what causes it. Typically you hear of people being stricken with bacterial or viral meningitis, caused by bacteria and viruses, respectively. There is another cause: Chemical meningitis.

Typically foreign agents that enter the body and make their way to the brain cause this particular type of meningitis. As the name suggests, these agents are most often chemicals. People can obtain this form of the disease by going under anesthesia, having surgery, having a radiological imaging procedure performed on them, and having NSAIDS, antibiotics, steroids, or chemotherapeutic agents introduced into the body. The presence of foreign irritants and chemicals in the body is what differentiates this form of meningitis from the other, more common forms.

Although the symptoms of the chemical form of meningitis mimics those of other forms, it is essential to be able to recognize these indicators. Typically a person will exhibit inflammation and fever that is frequently accompanied by chills and a horrendous headache. Other symptoms include vomiting, stiffness in the neck (specifically when moving it forward), high sensitivity to light, quick breathing, decrease in motor functions, and muscle spasms. Although these are the common symptoms, people vary and may experience a combination of these indications without exhibiting all listed above. They key indicator in regards to the chemical variety is the stiffness in the neck.

Since the symptoms of this type of meningitis replicate that of the more common viral and bacterial versions, the best way to determine the cause is by examination of the recent past. For examine, has the victim recently been through surgery or had chemotherapy? Obviously if the answer is yes there is a chance the meningitis is chemical in nature.

The best and most successfully treatment comes with a very early diagnosis. Therefore, if you exhibit these symptoms be sure to seek medical attention; meningitis is one illness in which you do not want to prolong obtaining treatment. If left untreated this illness can lead to severe permanent damage, especially neurologically, and in severe cases can even cause death. About one in ten cases of meningitis end in death making quick diagnosis and treatment absolutely essential to reduce the likelihood of crippling, mental impairment, and death.


In conclusion, all forms of meningitis can be very severe and life threatening if left untreated. Chemical meningitis is specifically more common to those who have encountered unwanted irritants typically through surgery, chemotherapy, radiological imaging, etc. Anyone experiencing a stiff neck, inflammation, severe headache, and any of the other symptoms listed above should seek immediate medical attention for a higher likelihood of a successful treatment with minimum damage being done. For children the symptoms listed above plus irritability and lack of appetite are common indicators. All in all, this illness is very serious and should not be taken lightly—always err on the side of caution and see a physician.