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Do headaches and stiff neck along with elevated leukocytes suggest meningitis?

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Posted on Mon, 11 May 2015
Question: Hi,
I am starting to feel like a bit of a hypochondriac with all of the questions I have posted recently.
As you may see from the history, I had a bout of headaches that started on April 10th and went through April 16th. My menstrual cycle started on the 12th, so I thought that perhaps there was a connection between the two. My neck and back were also sore – similar to the way that they would be if I had the flu.
Last Friday night (the 17th), I woke up with a stomachache and nausea. I ended up vomiting quite a bit and felt decent enough in the morning to go running. When I got home, I was feeling a little bit bloated and as if I was gassy and crampy in my upper abdomen. I took some Pepto Bismal and felt decent enough to run my usual weekend errands, but I did not have a bowel movement again until Monday morning (not typical for me) and was still feeling cramping in my upper abdomen, almost like a gas type pain. When I got home from work yesterday, (Monday, April 20th), I was very tired and still having the crampy sensations. I checked my temperature and had a temperature of 99.5. I went ahead and went to CareNow and they did blood work and found that my leukocytes were elevated and apparently, the ones that were elevated typically indicate a bacterial infection. I am now taking Arythromyocin for a few days. Does this sound typical of a regular stomach bug? I have had them before and have never had symptoms for so long. As you may have seen from my previous message, I was worried about meningitis from the headache and stiff neck I had before. My headache has gone away, although I still feel a little soreness in my neck muscles. Could the white blood cells be due to meningitis?
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Answered by Dr. Erion Spaho (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Very unlikely meningitis.

Detailed Answer:
Hi, I have gone through your question and understand your concerns.

White blood cells are found moderately increased during and after almost all infections of the human body, not only in meningitis.

I don't think you have or had meningitis, because it is a severe disease that has many other symptoms besides headaches and stiff neck.

These symptoms include high fever, decreased conscious level, photophobia, restlessnes, stiff neck ( evaluated by medical staff), disbalances etc.

Your stiff neck is probably related to muscle aches that randomly happen during infection.

In my opinion, it was a stomach bug.

Hope this answers your question. If you have additional questions or follow up questions then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vinay Bhardwaj
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Answered by
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Dr. Erion Spaho

Neurologist, Surgical

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 4264 Questions

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Do headaches and stiff neck along with elevated leukocytes suggest meningitis?

Brief Answer: Very unlikely meningitis. Detailed Answer: Hi, I have gone through your question and understand your concerns. White blood cells are found moderately increased during and after almost all infections of the human body, not only in meningitis. I don't think you have or had meningitis, because it is a severe disease that has many other symptoms besides headaches and stiff neck. These symptoms include high fever, decreased conscious level, photophobia, restlessnes, stiff neck ( evaluated by medical staff), disbalances etc. Your stiff neck is probably related to muscle aches that randomly happen during infection. In my opinion, it was a stomach bug. Hope this answers your question. If you have additional questions or follow up questions then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your questions.