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Syphilitic aseptic meningitis

  • Alternative Names

    Meningitis - syphilitic


    The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and stop the disorder from getting worse. Treating the infection helps prevent new nerve damage and may reduce symptoms, but it does not reverse existing damage.

    Penicillin or other antibiotics (such as tetracycline or erythromycin) are given to treat the infection. Treatment may be long-term to ensure that the infection is completely cleared. Symptoms may improve dramatically after treatment. A follow-up examination of the cerebrospinal fluid is needed to evaluate whether the antibiotic therapy worked.

    Neurologic damage needs to be treated. You may need to have emergency treatment for seizures. Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin are used to control seizures.

    Some people may need help eating, dressing, and caring for themselves. Confusion and other mental changes may either improve or continue long-term after antibiotic treatment.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Some people with the condition have worsening disability. Early death is common. Death can be caused directly by the neurologic damage or by the cardiovascular damage that also occurs with late syphilis infections.

    People with late syphilis infections are at greater risk for other infections and diseases. A seizure disorder can develop after infection.

    • Inability to care for self
    • Inability to communicate or interact
    • Injury caused during seizures
    • Stroke

    Calling your health care provider

    Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have seizures.

    Call your health care provider if you have a severe headache with fever or other symptoms, especially if you have a history of syphilis infection.