NHS Service

Discuss the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of meningitis

meningitis vaccine

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord that can be caused by viruses or bacteria. Meningitis needs to be diagnosed as soon as possible so that people can be properly treated. Without treatment, meningitis can become very serious and even fatal.

Bacterial meningitis is especially dangerous, particularly in children. This is why rapid testing needs to be done so that the correct course of antibiotics can be prescribed. Even a few hours delay in diagnosis can be the difference between life and death for meningitis.

Viral vs Bacterial Meningitis

There’s some overlap between the symptoms of viral and bacterial meningitis. Your specific type of treatment will depend on the results of your meningitis test.

  • Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics, with the type depending on which bacteria is causing the infection. Treatment needs to start as soon as possible to prevent complications.
  • Viral meningitis has no recommended treatment, but more severe cases may benefit from antiviral medications. Most people will recover on their own and will only need over-the-counter medications to help with symptom relief.

If either type of meningitis becomes serious, hospitalisation may be required.

Meningitis Symptoms

Viral meningitis can be caused by a variety of different viruses and is more common in older children and adults. Symptoms of viral meningitis include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Light sensitivity
  • A mild rash

People of any age can get bacterial meningitis but it is most common in babies, children, and young adults. It is much more serious than viral meningitis and is the form most people are referring to when they talk about meningitis. Bacterial meningitis symptoms tend to be sudden and can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Limb pain
  • Pale skin

In babies, meningitis presents as irritability, slowed reflexes, inability to settle, and inactivity.

Meningitis Vaccination in Northampton and Streatham

Three forms of bacterial meningitis can be prevented with the meningitis vaccine, including pneumococcal meningitis, Hib meningitis, and meningococcal meningitis. It is highly effective, but booster jabs can enhance the vaccine’s strength over time.

The friendly and knowledgeable staff at Touchwood Pharmacy provide many vaccines, including meningitis vaccination in Northolt and Sydenham. If you’d like to learn more, visit our website, contact us, or book an appointment online.