Alex, the inspiration behind The Believe and Achieve Trust, contracted meningitis as a young child. It left him coping with many after-effects which eventually resulted in him losing his life 10 years after he contracted meningitis. He was passionate about raising awareness of meningitis to prevent other people going through what he did and to save lives.
What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes, the 'meninges', that surround the brain and spinal cord. This infection causes these membranes to become inflamed, which in some cases can damage the nerves and brain. There are many different causes of meningitis and anyone can get it. There are vaccines against some forms of meningitis but people must still remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms as they do not cover all forms and not all ages receive the vaccines. If you want to know more about vaccines, go to Meningitis Now.
Know the signs and symptoms
Symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia are many and varied. They can appear in any order or not at all and it is really important to trust your instincts. It is also essential that you do not wait for the rash that everyone thinks of as this often does not appear and, if it does, it is often very late on. Take a look below at some of the most common signs and symptoms of meningitis.
SPOT SIGNS IN ADULTS
Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together. It is important to be aware of all the signs and symptoms. If you suspect meningitis or septicaemia, get medical help immediately.
Fever, cold hands and feet
Pale, blotchy skin. Spots/rash
Drowsy, difficult to wake
Confusion and irritability
Dislike bright lights
Severe muscle pain
SPOT SIGNS IN CHILDREN
Listed are some of the common signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia. Symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all.
Fever, cold hands and feet
Refusing food and vomiting
Child looking fretful
A sleepy child
Drowsy, floppy, unresponsive
A pale child
Rapid breathing or grunting
Pale, blotchy skin
Unusual cry, moaning
Tense, bulging fontanelle (soft spot)
Stiff neck, dislike bright lights
A rash that does not fade under pressure is a sign of meningococcal septicaemia (meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis and septicaemia).
People with septicaemia may develop a rash of tiny ‘pin pricks’ which can develop into purple bruising.
DO THE TEST
Press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin
Spots/rash may fade at first
Fever with spots/rash that do not fade under pressure is a medical emergency
Do not wait for a rash. If someone is ill and getting worse, get medical help immediately
On dark skin, the spots/rash can be more difficult to see. Be aware of all the signs and symptoms