Research conducted by the Meningitis Researchers Association has found that more than a third of parents don’t know the early signs of meningitis. Many parents wrongfully believe that the rash is the first sign- but in most children, the spots only occur once the child is seriously ill, and sometimes no rash appears at all.
So what should parents look out for? The experts say that it’s important to keep an eye out for other signs of sickness such as vomiting, muscle pain, or cold hands and feet. It is also important to watch for seizures.
Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis can be very hard to spot and waiting for the rash is often too late.
Meningitis can be deadly with around 3,200 people a year in the UK getting bacterial meningitis. One in ten of those die (many of them babies and children) and even more are left with life-changing disabilities. Therefore is is vital for parents to be able to spot the symptoms as early on as possible.
Know the Symptoms
- Arching of the back (infants)
- Behavioural changes
- Blank, staring expression
- Bulging fontanelle (infants)
- Cold hands and feet
- Dislike of being handled (infants)
- Drowsy or difficult to wake
- Listless, less responsive
- Loss of appetite, refusing food (infants)
- Muscle, leg or joint pain
- Neck retraction with arching of the back (infants)
- Pale or blotchy skin
- Rash or spots that don’t fade with pressure (also called purpure or petechiae)*
- Rapid breathing
- Seizures, fits or convulsions
- Sensitivity to light
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Unusual high-pitched cry (infants)
Meningitis can be either viral or bacterial. The viral strain is usually less serious and is almost never life threatening. Bacterial meningitis can be caused by a range of different bacteria, most commonly meningococcal bacteria. While babies and young children are at risk it also affects teenagers and adults.
If you are concerned your child is exhibiting symptoms of meningitis seek medical advice urgently.