What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective layers (referred to as the meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is most commonly caused by bacterial or viral infection.
Bacterial meningitis is life threatening and requires urgent medical treatment. 10% of bacterial cases of meningitis result in death and 15% of survivors of bacterial meningitis are left with severe life-changing consequences, such as brain damage. Viral meningitis is rarely life-threatening but can leave you with life-long after-effects. It is important to seek medical help if you have any signs or symptoms of meningitis.
Signs and Symptoms- What to Look for
Meningitis can present in many different ways and it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that can be indicative of the disease. The earlier a patient is treated, the better the chance of survival.
Common symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion and irritability, severe muscle pain, spots or rash that does not fade under pressure (often referred to as a non-blanching rash), stiff neck and convulsions/seizures.
What do I do if I suspect Meningitis?
It is important to recognise that a person may not be showing signs of all the recognised symptoms. This does not mean they do not have meningitis. If there is any suspicion of meningitis, medical help should be sought immediately. If you have already sought medical advice and are still worried, get medical help again, as early diagnosis can be difficult.
Most importantly, do not wait for a rash to materialise. If someone is deteriorating, do not delay, seek urgent medical help.
This week is Meningitis Awareness Week, raising the profile of this illness and the efforts being made to combat it and help those who have already been affected.