My husband is a healthy young adult who is recovering from what was apparently a bad bout of viral meningitis. After a week and a half of excruciating and incapacitating headaches, three days of nearly constant vomiting, and two trips to our small local ER (where he was told he had a sinus infection, stress, or a migraine), we finally spoke to a neurologist, who ordered a spinal tap to rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage. The spinal fluid was clear but showed white blood cells, so we were sent home with a viral meningitis diagnosis. That night, my husband was sent by ambulance to a large hospital in a nearby city because he was developing numbness all over his body, plus memory loss and badly slurred speech. Those symptoms subsided in several hours. The next day, he underwent an MRI, EEG, and bloodwork, all of which came back normal. He was hospitalized for a couple of days and then sent home for bed rest. The crushing headaches and some numbness continued for two more weeks, then gradually diminished. Our question is, my husband's job will require him to pass many difficult physical and mental tests before he can resume work. I have read that viral meningitis usually causes no permanent damage, but we are looking for some reassurance--the neurologist at one time suspected encephalitis, which I know can sometimes cause lasting problems. I'm sure you've seen many cases like this but this is new to us--can you give us any further information? Thanks very much!
I am very sorry to hear about your husband. Viral meningitis/encephalitis can have either a good outcome, mild to moderate problems, or severe and lasting problems. Most of the outcome depends on the viral agent and the degree of involvement. Judging from your husband's symptoms, he had a pretty bad case. Usually, we see some red blood cells in a viral meningitis, but not always. I will assume that the white blood cells seen in the CSF were predominatly lymphocytes. Most likely, the degree of recovery will be difficult to tell and he will tell us how he will recover and to the degree of recovery. If he no focal deficits (hemiplegia, memory loss, seizures, etc) then changes are the recovery will be good. I can't tell you much about the prognosis without seeing the MRI and doing the neurological exam. The less functional loss at this point the better. The recovery will not be immediate and likely will take many months to complete. The course will be much of a roller-coaster ride will him getting better than a set back. However, most of the time it will be steady. I hope it is full and quick.
I just thought that I would put in my 2 cents. I had viral meningitis in June of 98. I still have some symptoms. For me, it was a long slow recovery. But, when I look back over periods of time I can see symptoms going away and getting better. My advice is; he should sleep when he needs to, eat as healty as possible, eliminate sweets, supplement with good vitamins, minimize stress and exercise as soon as he is able. For me, eventually I got better and better. I'm still not back to normal, but pretty close. I wish you both luck.
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