Meningitis can be a very dangerous disease if left untreated, especially the bacterial variant which requires immediate treatment with antibiotics. When someone has meningitis, the protective membranes or meninges around the brain and spinal cord are severely infected.
As stated above, the bacterial version of meningitis is incredibly dangerous, but luckily doesn’t occur as often as its viral counterpart. The less severe type of meningitis is caused by a virus and isn’t life-threatening, but still requires treatment nonetheless, especially for children. The symptoms of both meningitis variants are nearly identical.
Here are eight recognizable symptoms of meningitis that everyone should know about.
1) Serious headaches
Sudden headaches certainly aren’t uncommon, but if someone is dealing with very severe headaches or even unbearable pain in the head or in the neck area, this could very well be a hint of a meningitis infection.
For infants, a bulge on the fontanel can also be a good indication.
2) Sudden sensitivity to bright light
A suddenly increased sensitivity to sunlight or other bright lights can cause discomfort, especially with children. Children who are infected with meningitis tend to instinctively fear bright lights because it causes the eyes to water.
Furthermore, this can increase a nauseous feeling and strengthen headaches.
3) Skin rashes that don’t go away
It’s not uncommon that someone infected with meningitis also has a couple of skin rashes, most likely on their arms. There’s a very simple test you can try for yourself to see if rashes on the body could be related to a meningitis infection: all you need a glass.
Press the glass firmly on the rash until the skin noticeably changes color and becomes paler. If the color of the rash spots also changes due to the applied pressure, it’s pretty certain that meningitis isn’t the cause of the rashes. However, if there’s no noticeable fading or discoloring of the rashes, that’s another clear indication of the dangerous illness.
4) An unexpected and severe fever
Fever is one of the most important symptoms of meningitis and it often occurs unexpectedly, out of the blue. Children, in particular, will start shivering and will most definitely feel cold, even if during a hot summer day.
The fever isn’t only sudden but is usually also quite severe. The temperature rises significantly and it often isn’t easy to bring it down. Do keep in mind that a fever is a common symptom of many diseases, but if these other symptoms show up as well, it’s time to seek medical attention.
5) Loss of appetite and nausea
People infected with meningitis will almost always feel nauseous and feel the urge to vomit. These feelings are usually accompanied by stomachaches and an understandable loss of appetite.
6) Seeing double
The bacterial or viral infection also causes the inability to focus your eyesight decently, which often results in a double vision.
7) Can’t unbend legs
This symptom occurs more with children’s infections, although others can have difficulties unbending their legs as well. Someone with meningitis will tend to bend his or her legs at the knees, and they’re either very hard or downright impossible to unbend.
It also won’t be possible to completely extend the legs when they’re positioned at a 90-degree angle.
8) Occipital muscles become rigid
The muscles at the back of your head, also known as the occipital muscles, will become fairly rigid often resulting in the person lying in a rather uncomfortable but recognizable position.
Due to the rigidity, the head is strangely positioned more to the back of the body and it often won’t unbend.
If you do recognize one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to immediately seek medical attention or even call an ambulance as the bacterial infection can be life-threatening.
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