Treatment for drug-induced aseptic meningitis (DIAM) is often as simple as having you stop taking the drug that caused it, but complications are possible.

Meningitis is an inflammation of tissues that protect your brain and neck. Infectious bacteria, viruses, or fungi often cause meningitis. But other causes, such as certain medications, can also lead to inflammation.

Meningitis caused by a medication is called drug-induced aseptic meningitis (DIAM). Stopping the use of the medication causing DIAM is often enough to help resolve the condition.

Aseptic meningitis is meningitis that isn’t caused by bacteria. The word septic means an infection with bacteria, and the prefix “a” means “without” or “lacking.” DIAM is a type of aseptic meningitis that occurs as a side effect of certain medications.

As is true of all types of meningitis, DIAM causes inflammation of the tissues and fluid layers that surround your brain and spinal cord, called the meninges.

DIAM is typically treatable and does not usually cause lasting harm. But symptoms, such as headache, neck pain, and fatigue, can be unpleasant and painful. Plus, DIAM can sometimes lead to complications, including brain swelling and blood clots.

DIAM is linked to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), intravenous immunoglobin, monoclonal antibodies, and certain antibiotics. The antibiotics that most often cause aseptic meningitis include:

DIAM is most often linked to ibuprofen. But it’s important to keep in mind that DIAM is usually a rare side effect. The rates of DIAM occuring are very low. Viral aseptic meningitis is the most common type of aseptic meningitis.

Aseptic meningitis can also be a complication of radiation treatments and surgery or the result of infections caused by fungi or viruses. Sometimes, autoimmune conditions or cancer spread can lead to aseptic meningitis.

The symptoms of DIAM are similar to the symptoms of bacterial meningitis. But there are some key differences. Bacterial meningitis often causes a high fever and a rash. These symptoms aren’t common in people with DIAM.

Symptoms of DIAM typically include:

Symptoms commonly begin about 3 days after starting a medication. It’s rare for DIAM to develop more than a month after beginning a medication. However, this can vary.

Some symptoms are more common in DIAM linked to specific types of drugs. For instance, symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting have been reported equally, regardless of the medication causing the DIAM.

On the other hand, symptoms such as neck stiffness and sensitivity to light and sound are more common in people with DIAM linked to NSAIDs.

DIAM treatment and duration depend on multiple factors. Generally, stopping the medication that caused DIAM can help resolve it. Plus, you may try pain-relieving medications for headaches and neck pain to help ease symptoms.

The symptoms of DIAM typically resolve within 7–14 days of stopping the medication. But factors, such as the specific medication, can change this timeline. There’s often a delay of 3 days between stopping medication and a noticeable reduction in symptoms.

Stopping use of the medication helps resolve symptoms in almost all cases. But, in rare cases, DIAM can lead to serious complications.

DIAM can cause brain swelling, blood clots that travel to the brain, and brain damage. Underlying chronic illnesses, cancers, and other factors that affect your overall health can make complications more likely.

Your doctor might want to take extra precautions if you’re at risk of complications from DIAM.

DIAM is a type of nonbacterial meningitis caused by a reaction to certain drugs. The condition is most commonly linked to NSAIDs, certain antibiotics, monoclonal antibodies, and intravenous immunoglobulin.

DIAM can lead to symptoms like headache, neck ache, stiff neck, fatigue, and vomiting. Stopping the medication causing the meningitis typically resolves symptoms in about 10–14 days.