Conditions

Meningitis

Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection that causes tissues round the brain and spinal cord to become swollen, reducing blood flow to the brain, and in its most severe form – bacterial meningitis – it is an extremely dangerous, potentially life threatening condition that can lead to septicaemia (blood poisoning) and needs to be treated immediately.

The less severe form, viral meningitis, isn’t life threatening and children generally make a full recovery. So what’s the difference between these two forms of meningitis, how do you know which type your child has, and what should you do?

Anyone can get either form of meningitis, but babies and young children are more at risk because their immune systems aren’t fully developed. It’s passed through contact with the bodily fluids of someone infected, much like a cold.

Viral meningitis is the less severe strain and also the most common, with around 30,000 reported cases in England and Wales every year. The symptoms include fever, shivering, headache, being sick, feeling tired, sleepy or confused, blotchy skin and increased sensitivity to light. There may also be a stiff or aching neck and in babies the fontanel (that soft little spot in the middle of the head) may appear swollen. It’ll take a couple of weeks for the body to fight off viral meningitis and the condition doesn’t always need treatment.

The other form, bacterial meningitis, is very serious and according to the Meningitis Trust, one in 10 cases prove fatal. Quick treatment is therefore vital. The most common cause is a bacteria called meningococcus, which can be spread by someone infected coughing or sneezing. Many people carry the bacteria yet aren’t affected.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are similar to those of viral meningitis, but in addition there may be pain across the body and a rash or blotchy marks on the skin which look like bruises. When you roll a glass over these marks, they won’t fade as ordinary spots would. The symptoms can appear within just a few hours, and if your child shows any of them, particularly marks on the skin, get them to a medical expert immediately. If it is untreated there is a danger that blood poisoning will leave irreparable damage. It may even prove fatal.

With proper, quick treatment, kids should make a full recovery, but the safest way to protect against viral and bacterial meningitis is to make sure your child gets the meningitis vaccine in the first few months of life. Your doctor or health visitor will be able to tell you more.

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my daughter had tb meningist on the brain,it very rare,she,s ok but needs 24 hour care now





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Hello, I've had a meningitis since the age of 5 which was affected. My deafness occurred has to damaged nerve and other part of the inner ear. So my hearing loss happened at the age of 8 and I have find quite a lot of improve by over the years and now I felt about my hearing has gained for sensing many boundaries. So I'm doing all researching these days since 2007 and wanted to know from the ear specialist to whether improvement or developments. I'm just feeling little better over years past now so and wanted to get your advice.





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My 6 year old son has not ever had meningitis, luckily. He does however often present with the exact same rash that doesn't disappear. I ALWAYS take him to see a doctor as soon as the rash appears, we end up being admitted to the hospital for tests and observation and everytime we are told it is a viral rash. I would love to know why my son viral rash ALWAYS presents itself as the meningitis rash? It's so frightening because even though it's always been a viral rash, it's always in the back of my mind that it could be meningitis!





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my little boy had meningitis we went hospital with hight temp and flu like bug so at 1st we was told just a bug till 4 hours after waitting in the kids waitting ward a rash come out then we was told he had it and they cought it befor it could do harm him just a week in hosp and he was lucky we know how luckey we are to have takein him to hospital wean we did





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hello my mum is 36,she had a brother who died from meningitis,im not sure if it was bacterial or normal but my mum was only 2 then.I felt quite bad for her because her brother,who was called Matthew,was only a few weeks old and i haven't seen any pictures of him.





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Content supplied by NHS Choices

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Infection can cause the meninges to become inflamed and swell, which can damage the nerves and brain. Read More »