Symptoms of Meningitis That You Can’t Ignore

November 12, 2012

Symptoms of Meningitis That You Can’t Ignore

Membranes surrounding the brain and spinal chord are called meninges. When this tissue becomes inflamed from a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, the patient gets meningitis or meningococcal disease. Sometimes doctors may call it cerebrospinal meningitis. But whatever you call it, this is a potentially deadly condition, especially for small children. Some strains of meningitis are contagious. Fortunately, a meningitis vaccine is available for bacterial meningitis, the most deadly form of meningitis. It does not work for viral meningitis. Children aged about 11 -12 should get their first vaccination and then another at age 16 and yet another before they enter college or university. Those Most at Risk Adults only need the meningitis vaccine if they fall into certain categories:

  • They lack a spleen

  • They have suffered a head or brain injury

  • They recently underwent brain surgery

  • They work with livestock

  • They work with laboratory rodents

There are several illnesses that can cause meningitis, especially in children. Watch children for symptoms of meningitis if they recently suffered from mumps, the herpes virus, HIV, streptococcus pneumonia, a head injury, brain injury or an illness caused by insect bites.

Warning Symptoms The most common symptoms of meningitis include:

  • High fever (over 101 degrees F)

  • Worst headache of the patient’s life

  • Nausea and vomiting because of the headache

  • Appetite loss

  • Extreme drowsiness

  • Difficulty waking up from sleep

  • Fainting or suddenly losing consciousness

  • Stiff neck

  • Small children are unable to maintain eye contact

  • Extreme sensitivity to light so that even dimly lit rooms are intolerable

  • Inability or difficulty concentrating which worsens to extreme confusion

  • Skin rash where spots do not fade if a clear drinking glass is rolled over them

  • Seizures

Small children tend to get the distinctive skin rash, even newborns. Newborns and very small infants also suffer from a soft bulge on the head, stiffness of the entire body and constant crying from the pain as well as the other common symptoms of meningitis listed above. Many adults over the age of 21 never get a fever or any symptoms of meningitis other than extreme drowsiness and confusion.

The Big Danger Symptoms of meningitis, especially in teenagers, are nearly identical to flu symptoms. They tend to lack the distinctive rash seen on small children. This leads teens, their friends and their families into a false sense of security. Symptoms worsen rapidly and if the patient isn’t hospitalized, the patient can die. If the patient has viral meningitis and survives, there should be no after effects. Unfortunately, there are severe after affects for children or adults that survive bacterial meningitis, although they can often still lead productive lives. These after effects include but are not limited to:

  • Permanent brain scarring

  • Development of mental illness

  • Permanent learning disabilities

  • Speech problems

  • Stunted growth

  • Permanent epilepsy

  • Breathing problems

  • Coordination problems

  • Permanent deafness in one or both ears

  • Permanent blindness in one or both eyes

  • Recurrence of bacterial meningitis

  • Sudden death usually due to respiratory arrest.


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