Why is bacterial meningitis worse than viral meningitis?

Bacteria more. Destructive. This is a difference in the biology of the pathogenicity of bacteria vs. Viruses. Bacteria induce stronger inflammatory response, release more toxins, enzymes etc.
Nature. Viral meningitis is usually relatively mild and self-limiting. Bacterial meningitis is quite severe, damaging to tissues and progressive unless treated effectively with antibiotics.

Related Questions

What distinguishes bacterial meningitis from viral meningitis?

Testing. During the primary workup for the presenting illness the fluid from the spinal tap is sent for various tests. These will determine in most cases the type of meningitis. Read more...

How can you differentiate between bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis?

Lab work. Blood work and the results of a spinal tap are the definitive way to differentiate between bacterial and viral meningitis. Read more...
CSF. By CSF ( cerebrospinal fluid analysis) and cultures you can determine whether patient has bacterial or viral meningitis. Read more...

How can doctors tell the difference between bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis?

Lumbar Puncture. Though the history can be similar- the profile on the lumbar puncture usually will aallow differentiation. Read more...
Cerebrospinal fluid. CSF analysis will distinguish between bacterial and viral causes. Also CSF cultures most probably will be positive in bacterial cultures. Read more...

What are the differences between viral and bacterial meningitis?

Symptoms are similar. Meningitis is an infection of the tissues surrounding the brain. Symptoms may include fever, headache, a stiff neck (an inability to touch the chin to the chest) and a rash. Generally bacterial meningitis is more serious than viral. However, intravenous antibiotics and other medications are usually initiated until laboratory results and other tests confirm the cause. Read more...
Different germs. Bacterial meningitis is bad and can cause brain damage (with bad outcomes such as deafness, blindness, inability to do everyday activities, . . ., and possibly death). The routine types of viral meningitis usually resolve by themselves, with the patients returning to normal. There are some less common types of viral meningitis that do cause damage. These are reasons why meningitis is so serious. Read more...
Similar symptoms. The presentation is similar for both. Most viral meningitis improves without long term issues without medication. Most bacterial meningitis is deadly if not treated promptly and aggressively. Read more...

Is there a simple way to tell if I have viral or bacterial meningitis?

Exam of CSF. Exam and culture of cerebrospinal fluid obtained by spinal tapping would generally allow the distinction. Read more...
Depends on "simple" A lumbar puncture to obtain cerebropsinal fluid (CSF) for analysis is the saimplest way to determine if a person has a viral or bacterial meningitis. Read more...