5 Ways to Prevent Meningitis

May 7th 2016

Aside from ensuring your vaccinations are up-to-date, the best ways to avoid meningitis are to practice good hygiene and stay generally healthy. Not all forms of meningitis are preventable, but by taking these simple steps, you lower your chances of catching a range of other bacteria and viruses as well as reducing your risks from this nasty disease.

Hand Washing

Like the influenza and cold viruses it resembles, the spread of viral meningitis can be slowed by thorough hand hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly as often as reasonably practical after being in crowded public places, touching animals or using the restroom. Wash both the front and back of each hand with soap and rinse thoroughly under running water.

Hold Your Own

Most people would never share a toothbrush, but to avoid the spread of contagious diseases such as meningitis, it is wise to avoid sharing drinks, foods, straws, eating implements or lip balms, too. Kissing and other mouth contact can also spread the disease.

Maintain Your Health

Standard advice on maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and exercising regularly is repeated so often that it sounds trite. It is still the best way to stay generally healthy, however, and this helps you maintain a strong immune system. Your body's own defenses are the best way to fight off opportunistic infections such as viral meningitis.


Bacterial meningitis is generally more dangerous than viral meningitis, and it is also harder to prevent by simple hygiene methods. Fortunately, vaccines are available for several strains of bacterial meningitis. These include several strains that are now part of the standard child immunization package, as well as a couple that are recommended for adults and young people who have particular risk factors. Speak with your medical professional for further advice, and be sure to keep up to date with the recommended jabs.

Be Alert

Meningitis is spread in secretions rather than being airborne. You can't catch it by being in the same room as a sufferer, but that you need to avoid contact with any fluids. Follow the rules for personal items listed above, and avoid being in the line of any coughs or sneezes. Experts recommend a 3-foot distance, if possible. If you are in contact with someone who has a case of meningitis, contact your physician as soon as possible. There are preventative antibiotics that can stop the disease developing if it is a bacterial form.


Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover your brain and spinal cord. As these tissues swell, they put pressure on these vital organs and can cause both temporary and permanent damage. Because the disease is defined by this single symptom, several different types of infection go by this name, and not all are preventable. However, you can reduce your risk of catching some of the most common bacterial and viral strains with a few simple precautions.

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