Meningitis is a swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord which can very quickly become serious. It’s often associated with septicemia (blood poisoning), which can also be extremely
The disease can be caused by a number of bacterial, viral or even fungal infections. Viral meningitis is the more common variety, but it’s usually less severe than bacterial meningitis, which is always a dangerous infection.
Every year thousands of children around the world are struck down by meningitis. The infections
that cause it appear in sporadic pockets, which are impossible to predict, often affecting groups of children.
The things that make meningitis so deadly are that it can develop so fast – a child can seem perfectly well one moment and in just a few hours become extremely ill with the disease – and the symptoms of the disease can be difficult to distinguish from other, less critical conditions.
Please note that there’s no guarantee someone with meningitis will show the symptoms listed here and that symptoms can appear in any order.
In babies and very young children meningitis can cause vomiting, a high temperature, a refusal to eat or drink, and a high-pitched/moaning cry.
Babies could also show a tense or bulging fontanel (soft spot on top of baby’s heads), blotchy or pale skin, rapid breathing, and having either a limp or stiff body.
Older children and adults can experience a severe headache, a stiff or painful neck and an aversion to bright lights as well as fever and vomiting. Those with meningitis can feel drowsy or fall unconscious.
The most infamous indication of meningitis is a rash that looks like small red pinpricks which grow into purple/red blotches. The rash doesn’t fade under pressure – you can test this by rolling a glass over the area.
Some early warning signs of meningitis in children under 17 include cold hands and feet, strange skin color (pale, bluish or mottled), and leg pains. These symptoms often show themselves hours before the more recognizable symptoms, like a rash and an aversion to bright light.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, take your child straight to a hospital and tell them what you’re worried about. Meningitis is a potentially lethal condition and requires immediate medical attention.