Meningitis

An Article by Worsley Training - First Aid Training in and around Wiltshire

Meningitis - know the symptoms

If you had...
 
• cold hands and feet
 
• severe headache
 
• fatigue
 
• a fever
 
• dislike of bright lights
 
• nausea
 

...would you think meningitis?
 
These are just some of the possible early symptoms which can easily be mistaken for less serious illnesses. This image from the Meningitis Now charity gives a few more.
 
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges, which are the membranes lining the brain and spinal cord. It can be viral or bacterial and can affect any age group.
 
The non-blanching rash is often the last sign to appear, if it does at all, so if someone is ill and getting worse quickly, then trust your instincts and get medical help immediately. Meningitis can strike in an instant, can kill within hours or leave you with lifelong after effects.
 
Meningitis in babies can be harder to spot, as alongside the flu-like symptoms children and adults will tell you about their painful joints and stiff neck, but babies can't talk. A friend said an unusual moaning cry was the worrying clue for her, but also look out for a bulging fontanelle, rapid breathing, refusing to feed, irritable when picked up or drowsy and floppy.
 
The Meningitis Research Foundation states that cases of Meningitis are on average 3 times higher in January than they are in September. The reasons they give for the increase are:
• During winter, when we catch a cold or even the flu, our immune system is suppressed increasing our risk of getting meningitis.
 
• A cough / cold will also help the bacteria to invade the body via the back of our nose and throat.
 
• As people spend longer periods indoors in close proximity, particularly through coughing, sneezing, and kissing, the bacteria are able to spread more rapidly.
 

More information at meningitisnow.org and meningitis.org

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