Meningitis is a disease that requires immediate medical attention. It is the inflammation of the area around the brain called the meninges, caused by either bacteria or a virus. Any brain swelling is extremely serious and can cause permanent damage or even death. Bacterial meningitis forms are even more serious than strains of viral meningitis, but without tests performed by a medical professional you can’t distinguish between the two.
There are vaccines that prevent some strains of this disease, but there are still other strains that cannot be vaccinated against. You and your children should receive the vaccinations for the preventable strains, but still be aware of the symptoms. Even if you’re just exposed briefly to someone with one of these unpreventable strains, you need to be treated immediately because they are all extremely contagious and can also be fatal.
The Signs And Symptoms Of Meningitis
Everyone should be aware of the possible signs and symptoms of meningitis. The symptoms are often different in adults and children. In adults, the signs of meningitis include headache, fever, sensitivity to light, stiffness in the neck, nausea and vomiting. These are all fairly non-specific symptoms that can be symptoms of a variety of other conditions, including non-serious one. You should also be aware if you may have possibly been exposed to anyone with this disease.
In children, meningitis is more likely to be fatal, but there may or may not be any of the previously mentioned symptoms. Often a child will just seem abnormally irritable. They may or may not even have a fever. They may seem lethargic or just feel generally bad without anything specific hurting or bothering them. What you should be looking out for in these instances is a very distinct rash.
Meningococcal Meningitis Rash
Meningococcal meningitis is one of the most severe strains of meningitis. It often leads to septicemia, which is blood poisoning – a dangerous condition in itself and more dangerous when coupled with brain swelling. When you contract this particular strain, you may or may not have any of the previously mentioned symptoms at all, but you will start to show signs of blood poisoning quite soon. A child might feel somewhat cold to the touch, especially their hands and feet. They might also seem to be very tired.
Parents of young children should always be on the look out for the very distinct rash that indicates septicemia. It will appear quite early after exposure. It typically presents itself as a red blotchy area that gets darker or even a purple in color with time. The rash can begin anywhere on the body and then spread very rapidly. When you apply pressure to the rash and then remove it, there isn’t any fading as there is with normal rashes.
What To Do
If you or your child is showing any indicators of meningitis, you should seek medical attention immediately. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent almost all strains of meningitis, but there are not yet vaccinations for every strain.