The Meningitis Now website states that this disease can ‘strike quickly and kill within hours.’ Therefore, it’s important that everyone is aware of the symptoms of this terrifying illness.
After effects of meningitis
Meningitis can affect people of all ages. If a patient survives the infection they may lose limbs, bone degeneration can occur, epilepsy and problems with coordination can also develop. Hearing aids may have to be worn as a result of hearing loss, and some people lose their sight. These effects don’t harm all meningitis survivors; but current research shows that they occur in one in 12 patients as a result of bacterial meningitis, so it is important to be aware of the seriousness of this illness. Viral meningitis is still a grave illness, but it doesn’t lead to septicaemia and potential limb amputation.
First symptoms of meningitis
One of the reasons why meningitis can be easily mistaken for another infection is because it shares symptoms with so many other diseases. For example, severe headaches and vomiting can also be an indication of flu. Aching limbs and diarrhoea can be symptomatic of numerous complaints. If you want to read up on all the potential symptoms of this killer disease then visit the Meningitis Research Foundation website.
Symptoms in babies
If your baby becomes overtly stiff and is extremely irritable when picked up, the child may have contracted meningitis. You should also feel the child’s skull and look out for a bulging area on the head. If in any doubt, ring for an ambulance immediately.
Rashes and fits
One of the key components that distinguishes meningitis from other illnesses is the rash that accompanies the disease. Look out for a red rash on skin that is pale or blotchy. People with darker skin tones should examine the soles of their feet or the palms of their hands as the rash may be difficult to find on other parts of the body. Fits are also another symptom of meningitis as is photosensitivity, an aversion to light.
The glass test
If you are at all unsure about a rash, then apply the glass test. Take a clean glass and place it against the skin firmly; a rash that does not fade under pressure is a sign of meningococcal septicaemia, and you should seek medical help urgently. However, it is a common misconception that a rash appears in every case of meningitis. It does not. If someone has meningitis but not septicaemia, they won’t have a rash – if someone is displaying other symptoms, don’t wait for a rash to appear.
Speed is of the essence in meningitis cases. The quicker the patient can be diagnosed the sooner that treatment can be administered to save lives. If you do identify a rash through the glass get medical advice immediately. Go directly to your local Accident and Emergency department, rather than waiting for an appointment with your GP.
According to The Independent there have been 10,000 cases of meningitis throughout England and Wales in the past decade. A vaccine against MenB has been licensed this year but it’s still not widely available. Ask your doctor about meningitis vaccines, and if you are in any doubt about an illness and its symptoms always seek medical advice.