For meningitis, time is of the essence, learn the signs and symptoms. An early diagnosis with treatment could mean saving a life.
Early signs and symptoms of meningitis often present as flu-like symptoms. The incubation period can be between two days and three weeks depending on the type of bacterium involved. Symptoms can occur in any order or not at all.
Vomiting or nausea
Confusion or difficulty concentrating
Sleepiness or difficulty waking up
Sensitivity to light
Lack of interest in drinking and eating
Skin rash in some cases, such as in viral or meningococcal meningitis
Newborns and infants may not have
the classic signs and symptoms of headache and stiff neck. Instead,
signs of meningitis in this age group may include:
Fever, possibly with cold hands and feet
Refusing feeds or vomiting
High pitched moaning cry or whimpering
Dislike of being handled or fretful behaviour
Neck retraction with arching of the back
Blank staring expression
Child is difficult to wake or lethargic
Pale blotchy complexion
Bulging soft spot on the head – bulging fontanelle
Floppy or stiff body or jerking body movements
Breathing problems or increased rate of breathing
If you suspect someone you know may have meningitis. Trust your intuition and get medical help immediately. The only definitive diagnosis for meningitis is made by analyzing a sample of the patient's cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is collected through a lumbar puncture, therefore describe the symptoms carefully and say that you think it could be meningitis or septicaemia. If meningitis is suspected, aggressive antibiotic treatment must be administered promptly in order to prevent neurological complications.