Meningitis Now
4,198 members1,397 posts

Likely Viral meningitis

Hi there, I found this site through researching VM as my GP has diagnosed me as "likely" having it.

My story starts about 35 years ago when I was aged 11, I was rushed into hospital with severe headache, vomiting, photophobia and neck stiffness. I was kept in isolation overnight and although I can't remember much about any tests being done, I do remember thinking I was dying, the pain was unbelievable. I was sent home the following day and that was that,

Skip forward to 2011 and I suddenly had an unrelenting headache along with the other symptoms mentioned above. I was ill for 3 days and just thought it was a migraine until my mum whos a retired nurse visited and took me straight to the out of hours unit who then sent me straight to A&E, again I was kept in overnight, given co-codamol (which I have since discovered can exacerbate headaches), anyway I had a LP the following day and sent home after being told I only had a virus? I was just grateful to be out of the awful ward I'd been put in. No follow up care or information was given. Needless to say I was still feeling very unwell and went straight to my GP who prescribed me diclofenac for the headache that was still so bad I could barely open my eyes, these actually took the edge of. It took me weeks to feel well again.

So after the long story, here I am again. This time it started with a fever and my whole body aching for 2 days then the headache started and after trying to convince myself I had a bad head cold minus the runny nose and sneezing, the pain reached horrible levels so much so I couldn't bear to move my head even an inch. The neck stiffness and nausea kicked in to. I had a telephone consultation with my GP who said I had a migraine and prescribed Sumatriptan. This made the headache worse! So after another 24 hours of sheer misery and crying in pain my husband took me to my GP surgery. He was visibly shocked at the state I was in and told me I most likely have VM and advised me that if I went to A&E and they done a LP and actually diagnosed it then they would send me home as there is no treatment for the virus, all I can do is treat the symptoms. That's fine by me as I don't think anyone relishes the prospect of having to wait around for hours being poked and prodded and the horrible experience of a LP. So I asked him for diclofenac as it helped me previously. I'm currently signed off work and although I have the headache under control, its still there silently pulsing away and reminding me. I feel exhausted and weak and pretty fed up.

Sorry for the long post but felt I had to give the details and hope you can maybe offer some advise as I have never actually been told definitively that I have VM but looking back it seems I may very well have had it more than once?

Has anyone had the same or similar happen to them and it not been VM?

Thanks for reading


6 Replies

Hi maggsy.

There are a few on here who have had more than one episode of viral meningitis but that doesn't happen for most. Your GP or any Dr would only be able to give you a 'likely' diagnosis without it being confirmed by a Lumber Puncture as this is the only test that can give the definitive diagnosis. If Lumber Punctures were done for any of your admissions to hospital then the results would be on your medical records. Obviously overtime if it is confirmed at episodes of repeated vm illness it creates a history of suseptability that then maybe investigated further. Yes there are only a few people that VM is so debilatating and serious that they require hospital admission and treatment, as most do not, and recovery is at home. I can understand your reluctance to not want to spend time at the hospital waiting for the LP procedure to be done and yes it is sometimes not a pleasant experience but by not having it done your potential VM will be disregarded as just having been a virus. My advice would be if you are unwell like this in the future that you do go and have a LP done as your GP suggested.

Painkillers and lots of rest is what is required while you are recovering and that takes variable amounts of time from weeks to months or for some it does have long term after effects. You are doing the right thing by being signed off from work for a while. Many doctors still think that VM is no worse than flu and only takes a couple of weeks to recover from but it is now recognized by some that this is not always so. Have you looked on the Meningitis Now website as you will find lots of helpful information. Also they have a very helpful helpline that you can ring for information, support or to access other services that they offer - 0808 80 10388 9 am - 10 pm x 365 days.

Best wishes

1 like

Hi StrawberryCream,

Thanks for taking the time to answer my post its much appreciated. I agree that the only way to find out for sure if its VM then a LP is the only option and think if I'm unlucky to be struck down with these symptoms again then I will let them do it.

I'll also request my medical records from both times I was admitted to hospital as I'm curious about the "virus" I was told I had in 2011. This will of course need to wait until I'm fighting fit again as I'm still very sensitive to daylight and the thought of going back to my GP surgery is filling me with dread.

Again thanks for your reply and for providing the helpline number.



I have had numerous hospitalizations and lumbar punctures which indicated viral meningitis. Frist hospitalized with signs &symptoms plus a lumbar puncture showing elevated WBC and protein in my CSF, in 1992. My last puncture and hospitalization was 2009, same story. Total of about 17 admissions.


Hi just reading your post...did your GP encourage you to go to hospital to have a LP or did your GP give you a viral diagnoses in his/her office by guessing? I doubt you would ever get bacterial meningitis but if your GP expects VM they should not rule out the possibility of BM and send you to hospital immediately.

In addition, as strawberrycream has said, it is probably best to have a LP whenever you get this bad, at the very least if you are having reoccurring episodes of VM you can have this investigated for underlying health issues.

All the best 😄


Hi Schmooschmoo,

My GP asked what all my symptoms had been from the onset of when I first fdlt unwell, then tried to shine a light in both eyes which I couldn't tolerate, checked my temp, blood pressure was very low but not dangerously low and my head was absolutely pounding, I was also very weak and dizzy.

He said that if he sent me to A&E they would most probably do a LP to confirm if it was VM but that they would just send me home anyway as there is basically no treatment apart from lots of rest and pain relief for the headache. He also said he thought I was past the point of it possibly being BM as I'd already been having symptoms for 6 days and hadn't got any worse, which if it was BM he would've expected me to have been feeling worse. He did say however, that I likely have a mild case of VM and if my symptoms did get worse then to go straight to A&E.

Thankfully I am starting to feel that the worst has definitely passed. But if I get this again I'll be going straight to hospital for a more thorough diagnosis and hopefully some answers as to why I keep having similar bouts of this illness.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my post.



Hi mags,

Im thinking your GP was "lucky" he was right in guessing VM. BM (although severe symptoms can come on swiftly), has identical symptoms of VM and definitely can increase over the course of days, especially if you have pnemuniccocal meningitis. Im glad your GP was right but he was playing with fire by guessing. My mum was sent home by a GP and died due to BM. Because symptoms are identical, one should not presume it is viral. Although the preference is a VM outcome (although I wish neither existed), you would want a LP to rule out BM. I wish you all the very best.


You may also like...