Meningitis results from the internal swelling of the brain and spinal cord. This swelling in meningitis results from a bacterial, virus or microorganism infection and less commonly, certain pharmaceutical drugs. Because of the inflammation’s proximity to the brain and spinal cord, meningitis is a life-threatening condition. Due to the nature of this condition, it is extremely important to go to a physician if symptoms of meningitis are present.
Signs of meningitis are often mistaken for influenza (flu). Symptoms of meningitis for patients over the age of two usually develop over a period of one to two hours or even one to two days.
Here are some signs of meningitis to watch out for:
Symptoms of Patients Over the Age of Two
1. stiff neck – Neck stiffness is one of the most common symptoms of meningitis. A good way to test neck stiffness is if the patient has the ability to move his or her chin onto her chest without excruciating pain.
2. headache– Due to the inflammation of the brain and spinal cord’s membranes, most meningitis patients will experience headaches. These headaches are debilitating and are very different from the common migraine.
3. high fever – Another symptom to watch out for is high fever that reaches 103 F. Because of this symptom, meningitis is often mistaken for the common flu.
4. vomiting – Vomiting associated with dizziness and headaches is another indicator of meningitis.
5. light and noise sensitivity – A patient’s inability to tolerate bright lights (photophobia) and loud noises (phonophobia) are signs of meningitis.
6. refusal to eat and drink – A patient who has lost interest in eating and drinking could be experiencing meningitis.
7. sleepiness – Someone who is afflicted with meningitis is constantly sleepy and when the patient does fall asleep, it is very difficult to wake him or her up.
8. seizures – A patient who has had no history of seizures could suddenly have unexpected seizure attacks. Seizure attacks are caused by the brain and spinal cord being compromised.
9. difficulty concentrating – Meningitis could be present when a patient appears confused or has difficulty concentrating. For young children, check their eyes. If they are unable to make eye contact this could be a sign of the disease.
10. skin rashes – Bright red itchy rashes are a sign of viral or meningococcal meningitis. The rashes may not be as easily perceived on patients with darker skin so careful scrutiny is important.
Symptoms of Newborn Patients – Newborn patients do not have the classic symptoms of meningitis such as a stiff neck and headache. Instead, meningitis appears in this age group in the form of high fever, excessive sleepiness, sluggishness, loss of appetite and seizures. A physical indicator that a baby is afflicted with meningitis is a bulge on the fontanel, the top of the infant’s head. The infant’s body and extremities may also become very stiff.