Physical exam for meningitis

The physical exam for meningitis includes:

  • Checking the eyes, nose, throat, ears, and neck.
  • Checking the skin, abdomen, arms, and legs.
  • Checking temperature and breathing rate.
  • Listening to the heart and lungs.
  • Checking the neck for stiffness.
  • Checking muscle strength and reflexes.

During the physical exam, the health professional may look for signs of confusion by asking you to answer simple questions and do simple tasks.

Other tests also may be done during the physical exam, including:

  • Asking you to lie on your back, bend your knees up to the chest, and then stretch them out. Pain during this movement may indicate meningitis.
  • Asking you to lie on your back and bend your neck forward so that the chin touches the chest. If you bend your knees without intending to do so, you may have meningitis.

Last Updated: December 24, 2008

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