Symptoms of Meningitis
Symptoms of meningitis vary from person to person from mild flu-like symptoms to rapid progression with serious complications and damaging long-term effects. Most people suffer from a stiff neck with an inability to touch the chin to the chest. This is due to swelling and inflammation of the meninges in the cervical spinal cord. Other symptoms commonly include severe headaches with light sensitivity. Nausea and vomiting associated with this head and neck pain may be experienced along with a general lack of hunger or thirst. A reddish rash is often present which does not disappear when rolling a glass over the affected area of skin. Patients may also feel excessively sleepy and have difficulty waking. Some experience seizures which can further damage the brain through acute trauma.
Adult symptoms progress rapidly over 24hrs in about a quarter of patients, with the other sufferers experiencing a gradual progression and abatement of symptoms over a few days to a week. Antibiotic use for an unrelated condition may result in a gradual onset of symptoms that then rapidly progress on cessation of the antibiotics. Those with meningitis caused by a fungal infection may have symptoms developing over a period of weeks rather than days, making it a particularly difficult form to diagnose and treat quickly. AIDS patients are the usual patient group who contract fungal meningitis due to a generally weakened immune system; it is often precipitated by a recent upper respiratory tract infection. Symptoms that are likely to be experienced include headaches and nausea, seizures, confusion, photophobia, a stiff neck, and occasionally, weakness or loss of sensation in localized areas such as the face. Joint swelling, pain, and discomfort may also occur along with a bruise-like rash.
Symptoms in children should be carefully watched for as they may not be able to report feelings of nausea or headache verbally. General irritability, constant crying, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and body rigidity are all signs of meningitis in children. Refusal to eat and unusual tiredness, with long periods of sleep can also indicate the presence of the disease. Children under five are at particular risk and require careful monitoring. Any suspicion of meningitis should be immediately checked with a medical professional as prompt treatment is paramount in limiting the damaging effects of this disease.
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Last Updated: 10/10/2010