Meningitis: Medicines for Pressure on the Brain

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Topic Overview

Medicines used to treat pressure on the brain caused by meningitis include:

  • Dexamethasone.
  • Mannitol (Osmitrol).

These medicines reduce swelling (inflammation) in the brain tissues, which may lower the risk of developing short-term complications such as seizures and long-term complications such as hearing loss.

Taking dexamethasone along with a course of antibiotics is recommended for people with some types of meningitis.footnote 1 It can lower the chance of disability and death.

Some side effects that can occur from these medicines include nausea and stomach discomfort, drowsiness or trouble sleeping, mood swings, and ringing in the ears.

Related Information



  1. Tunkel AR, et al. (2010). Acute meningitis. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., pp. 1189–1229. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014