Meningitis is a very serious illness that requires prompt identification and intervention. The difficulty is that early meningitis shares common symptoms with several other illnesses and conditions. However, some telltale indicators can indicate that this is something more than a common cold or flu. Here are some of the key causes of meningitis to watch out for:-
- sensitivity to bright light or sunlight
- muscle aches and pains
- headache often with a stiff neck
- high temperature or fever
- nausea and vomiting
- disorientation or mental confusion
- a mottling or blotchy effect on the skin
- a rash that does not fade under pressure, a glass is commonly used for this test
Meningitis is a medical emergency and without prompt treatment, meningitis can lead to permanent and life-changing disability and possibly even death.
What treatment is there for meningitis?
A diagnosis of meningitis requires immediate hospitalisation. Meningitis affects the membranes which surround the brain and the spinal cord. These are called the meninges which is where the disease derives its name. The meninges protect the central nervous system. Meningitis is usually bacterial and there are several different types of bacteria which can cause the illness. There are other strains of meningitis, for instance, viral meningitis but it is the bacterial version which is the most severe. Meningitis treatment requires an intensive antibiotic response in a hospital with supportive fluids and hydration but quite a high proportion of people are left with post-illness complications after they have recovered.
Vaccination has made a big impact on the incidence of bacterial meningitis. The meningitis vaccination gives protection against what is termed the group B bacteria which commonly causes infection in young children. Babies receive this at eight weeks with a second dose at sixteen weeks and a booster at the end of their first year. There is also a bacteria called the Hib bacteria which can cause meningitis and there is a separate vaccine for this which forms part of the cluster group of vaccines given to babies in the first four months.