Causes of Meningitis in Adults
Causes of Meningitis in Adults

5 Most Common Causes of Meningitis in Adults

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Causes of Meningitis in Adults

Causes of Meningitis in adults occurs by five major factors, namely bacteria, viruses, fungi, amoeba and some diseases and conditions. for example, when a person is exposed to meningitis during inflammation of the meninges that serve as a protective brain and spinal cord.


If divided according to the age of the patient, the bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis are:

  • Infants: Streptococcus group B, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes.
  • Toddlers and children: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae type B.
  • Adolescents and adults: Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae.
  • Middle-aged and elderly: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Listeria monocytogenes.

Neisseria meningitidis is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis. These bacteria can live in the nose and throat without causing infection. But, there are times where these bacteria can resist and defeat the human immune system resulting in meningitis.

In general, adults have immunity to Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterium can not live long outside the human body. These bacteria are usually spread by direct contact or close range, for example through coughing, sneezing, or kissing.

Streptococcus pneumoniae can also live in the human nose and throat without causing infection. But when the human immune system goes down, these bacteria can attack and cause meningitis. These bacteria more often cause meningitis in infants, ie when their immune system is not fully developed.

Another cause is the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These bacteria usually first infect the lung breathing organs which then enter the bloodstream and infect the protective membrane of the brain.


Viruses can enter the human body through the bloodstream and move towards the meninges or protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord. When it comes to meninges, the virus can cause inflammation or meningitis.

The following are some examples of viruses that are known to cause meningitis:

  • Enteroviruses: usually cause abdominal infections
  • Herpes simplex virus: causes genital herpes
  • Chickenpox virus
  • Measles virus
  • Influenza virus
  • Mumps virus (Mumps)

Due to Fungus

Fungal meningitis is a rare disease. A common cause of fungal meningitis is Cryptococcus. The fungus will spread in the bloodstream and into the spinal cord.


Parasitic meningitis or primary amebic meningoencephalitis is usually caused by amoeba and lethal. Naegleria fowleri is a type of amoeba that is commonly the cause of parasitic meningitis


This type of meningitis is caused by several factors, namely:

  • Cancer.
  • Lupus Disease.
  • Some drugs.
  • Head injury.
  • Brain surgery.

Several factors can increase a person’s risk of meningitis:

  1. Hereditary factors.
  2. Not receiving a meningitis vaccine or basic immunization during childhood.
  3. Age. Most people with viral meningitis are children under five years of age. While bacterial meningitis generally affects a person under the age of 20 years.
  4. Living in an artificial community, such as student or student dormitories and military bases, can increase the risk of getting meningococcal infected.
  5. Pregnancy, can increase the risk of infected listeria bacteria that can cause meningitis.
  6. Suffering from immune system disorders.
  7. Men, meningitis more often than women.
  8. Vulnerable to exposure to insects or rodents.
  9. Traveling or living in meningitis-prone areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

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