Most people make a full recovery from meningitis, but it can sometimes cause serious long-term problems and can be life threatening.
It's estimated up to 1 person in every 2 or 3 who survives bacterial meningitis is left with 1 or more permanent problems.
Complications are much rarer after viral meningitis.
Some of the most common complications associated with meningitis are:
- hearing loss, which may be partial or total – people who have had meningitis will usually have a hearing test after a few weeks to check for any problems
- recurrent seizures (epilepsy)
- problems with memory and concentration
- co-ordination, movement and balance problems
- learning difficulties and behavioural problems
- vision loss, which may be partial or total
- loss of limbs – amputation is sometimes necessary to stop the infection spreading through the body and remove damaged tissue
- bone and joint problems, such as arthritis
- kidney problems
Overall, it's estimated up to 1 in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is fatal.
Treatment and support
Additional treatment and long-term support may be required if you or your child experience complications of meningitis.
- cochlear implants, which are small devices that are inserted into the ears to improve hearing, may be needed in cases of severe hearing loss – read more about treatment for hearing loss
- prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation support may help if it was necessary to amputate any limbs – read more about recovering after an amputation
- counselling and psychological support may help if the trauma of having meningitis causes problems such as disturbed sleep, bedwetting, or fear of doctors and hospitals
This includes a guide to recovering from childhood meningitis and septicaemia.
Page last reviewed: 25 October 2022
Next review due: 25 October 2025