true tales from the gates of the underworld

Meningitis – know the symptoms
March 16, 2013, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , ,

Meningitis and septicaemia can strike with little or no warning, but knowing the symptoms and acting fast can save lives.

Some of the symptoms for meningitis and septicaemia are the same, while others differ. It is important to remember that not everyone gets all of these symptoms and they can appear in any order. In the early stages of both diseases, symptoms can also often appear flu-like.


Classic symptoms:
a headache
stiff neck
dislike of bright light
Other symptoms can include:
difficulty supporting own weight
vomiting and diarrhoea
confusion and drowsiness

The symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis are the same as meningococcal meningitis.

Meningococcal septicaemia

Common symptoms:
aching limbs (particularly leg pain)
cold hands and feet
a rash which starts like pin prick spots and develops rapidly into purple bruising
Other symptoms may include:
difficulty supporting own weight
vomiting and diarrhoea
confusion and drowsiness
difficulty breathing
change in skin colour

Do the tumbler test

Important: Someone who becomes unwell rapidly should be examined particularly carefully for the meningococcal septicaemia rash. The majority of people (over 50%) with meningococcal septicaemia develop a rash of tiny ‘pink prick’ spots which can rapidly develop into purple bruising. To identify the rash, press a glass tumbler against it and if the rash does not fade, it could be meningococcal septicaemia. On dark skin, check for the rash on lighter parts of the body, eg. inner eyelids or finger tips. 

Babies and toddlers

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, other symptoms to look out for in babies include:
blotchy skin, quite pale or turning blue
tense or bulging soft spot (fontanelle)on the baby’s head
poor feeding
high pitched cry/irritable (especially when being held)

It is particularly hard to tell when babies and toddlers are ill and what their symptoms are. Unfortunately, the symptoms in babies do not present in any particular order. In the majority of cases, with babies in particular, you will notice a rapid deterioration in their condition. It is important to trust your instincts – you know your child best. If you suspect anything is wrong, seek medical help immediately by going to your nearest GP or casualty unit.

Thank you to Meningitis UK for the above. Here is also the link to the NHS page on meningitis that also lists some other symptoms.

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