Meningitis is an extremely serious illness. It’s caused by a bacterial infection and can spread via saliva or mucus. This is why it’s easy to spread it from one family member to another; sharing cups, kissing and living in close quarters are all ways it can be transmitted from one person to another.
There are several common symptoms of meningitis, many of which reflect the same symptoms as a cold or flu, so it’s important to pay attention to the non-cold symptoms in particular. These include a sudden fever, chills, a stiff neck, headaches, purple regions on the body that resemble bruises, sensitivity to light, drowsiness, nausea, confusion and a body rash. Even seizures and comas can be attributed to meningitis.
Healthline recently advised that children have most of the same symptoms (with the exception of things like a stiff neck, for example) but they have some that differ. These include but are not limited to: irritability, difficulty feeding, redness on the skin and high-pitched crying.
Since meningitis is such a serious infection you should see a doctor immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms. If left untreated (via antibiotics) seizures, brain damage, heart infections, hearing loss, kidney failure and even death can occur. It’s best to lean on the safe side and get tested rather than try and ride out the symptoms. If you feel you may have come in contact with someone who has meningitis your doctor can administer antibiotics before symptoms surface.
Meningitis is diagnosed via a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. Cultures of spinal fluid can be taken as the bacteria in the fluid can be seen under a microscope.
While the typical treatment for meningitis is antibiotics, most patients are admitted to the hospital for monitoring and observation. For those who are about to become involved in situations where there could be an outbreak, such as military service or entering a new dorm for school, vaccination is available.