What are the symptoms of meningitis?

If you suspect you or a loved one may have meningitis, seek medical help immediately.  Meningitis can progress very quickly, hence it is important to act quickly is it is suspected.

Signs and symptoms of meningitis (in addition to septicaemia and meningococcal disease) are typically characterised by:

  • high temperature
  • cold hands and feet
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • breathing quickly
  • muscle and joint pain
  • pale, mottled or blotchy skin
  • spots or a rash
  • headache
  • a stiff neck
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • being very sleepy or difficult to wake
  • fits (seizures)

Babies often show signs of meningitis in other ways, including:

  • refusing to feed
  • irritability
  • a high-pitched cry
  • a stiff body or be floppy or unresponsive
  • a bulging soft spot on the top of their head

Meningitis is also commonly characterised by a rash which starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches.  In addition, when pressed firmly with the side of a glass, it won’t fade.

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