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Cryptococcal meningitis: symptoms, causes and treatment


Three layers of protective membranes, known as meninges, line the inside of the brain and spinal cord. When the meninges become infected, it is called meningitis. However, if the infection is caused by a fungus called cryptococcus, it is cryptococcal meningitis. A type of meningitis that affects people whose immune systems are weakened by other health conditions. Without timely treatment, it can have permanent consequences, sometimes fatal.

This blog discusses cryptococcal meningitis, its symptoms, causes, and various treatment options.

What is cryptococcal meningitis?

As mentioned earlier, the brain and spinal cord are protected by three layers of membranes called meninges. However, when cryptococcal bacteria infect the meninges, a serious fungal infection of the brain and spinal cord called cryptococcal meningitis occurs.

People with a weakened immune system are at increased risk of developing cryptococcal meningitis.

Who is at risk of developing cryptococcal meningitis?

Fungi primarily affect people with compromised immune systems. Nearly 85% of reported cryptococcal meningitis patients HIV Patience. Other health conditions that lower a person’s immunity are:

  • blood disease
  • Organ failure syndrome
  • Persons undergoing organ transplantation, those taking immunosuppressants
  • immunodeficiency syndrome
  • various treatments, including steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs
  • AIDS or HIV
  • liver cirrhosis
  • Diabetes
  • leukemia
  • sarcoidosis

What Causes Cryptococcal Meningitis?

There are two types of fungi that cause cryptococcal meningitis. Cryptococcus neoformans causes almost all cases of cryptococcal meningitis. It is commonly found in soil and is spread through bird droppings. Another fungus is Cryptococcus gattii, which is found in soil. It is also found in the remains of some trees such as eucalyptus. Not found in bird droppings.

Cryptococcal meningitis is not contagious. That is, it cannot spread from person to person. Fungi form spores that can spread in soil, bird droppings, and rotting wood. lymph node It continues to multiply and spread to many cells, affecting brain cells. Symptoms appear gradually.

What are the symptoms of cryptococcal meningitis?

Cryptococcal meningitis develops gradually over days to weeks after exposure to the fungus. Symptoms include:

Doctors find it difficult to accurately diagnose cryptococcal meningitis. Most symptoms can resemble side effects from medications intended to treat an underlying health condition.

Left untreated, it can be fatal, especially for people with HIV. According to the British Medical Bulletin, 10-30% of his HIV patients die from the disease.

When should I see a doctor?

Call your doctor if a person is experiencing symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention if your child exhibits any of the following signs:

  • feeding problems
  • high-pitched scream
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Persistent unexplained fever


How is cryptococcal meningitis diagnosed?

The health care provider does a physical examination and asks the person about their symptoms. If cryptococcal meningitis is suspected, the doctor will order the following tests:

  • Lumbar puncture: During this procedure, a neurologist inserts a needle to drain a small amount of spinal fluid. A liquid test for infection is performed.
  • blood culture test
  • chest x-ray
  • CT scan of the brain
  • Cerebrospinal fluid culture
  • Cryptococcal antigen in CSF or blood

What are the treatments for cryptococcal meningitis?

Antifungal drugs are known to treat cryptococcal meningitis. However, it takes several months for the patient to fully recover. These drugs are given intravenously. Amphotericin B is the most common treatment option, usually used in combination with an oral antifungal drug called 5-flucytosine. Doctors closely monitor patients for side effects, such as kidney damage.

During treatment, patients must undergo a lumbar puncture every two weeks to check for disease. A patient is cured of cryptococcal meningitis if the results are negative for her two consecutive weeks. In such cases, doctors change the drug to fluconazole. The patient has to take her medicine for 8 weeks.

What are the complications of cryptococcal meningitis?

Recovery of patients with cryptococcal meningitis requires long-term medication to prevent disease recurrence and improve the immune system. Possible complications are:

  • brain injury
  • Hearing or Visual Impairment
  • Increased cerebrospinal fluid in the brain
  • seizure
  • death

Possible side effects of amphotericin B are:

  • vomiting and nausea
  • fever and chills
  • joint and muscle pain
  • kidney damage


Cryptococcal meningitis is a life-threatening disease caused by a fungus. It usually affects people with weakened immune systems. With timely treatment, the patient can make a full recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is the disease contagious?

The disease is neither contagious nor contagious. Fungal spores must be inhaled in order for a person to develop disease.

Is cryptococcal meningitis a fatal disease?

Left untreated, the disease can be fatal.

https://healthlibrary.askapollo.com/cryptococcal-meningitis-symptoms-causes-and-treatment/ Cryptococcal meningitis: symptoms, causes and treatment

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