Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection that can affect anybody. It is more common in babies, children, teenagers and young adults. Meningitis can be very serious if it is not treated quickly so it is important to recognise the signs and symptoms.

The following symptoms may be signs of meningitis. Remember that your child may not have all of these at the same time. These symptoms can appear in any order, and some may not appear at all:   

  • Stiff neck
  • Bothered by light
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Confusion
  • Extra sleepy
  • Shaking
  • High temperature (fever) you can't control
  • Unusually cold hands and feet
  • Rash that doesn't fade when you press a glass against it.

Some of these symptoms can be signs of other more minor illnesses too. If you are worried, it's important to get help from a health professional straight away. If your child has meningitis, the symptoms can get worse quickly.

Meningitis and other infections can also lead to a very serious complication called sepsis, so it's important you also know the symptoms of this too. Take a look at the sepsis page here

In babies, meningitis can also cause these symptoms:

  • Refusing feeds
  • Becoming irritable and not wanting to be picked up
  • Bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
  • Becoming floppy or unresponsive
  • Crying which is unusual for them – may be very high pitched Stiff body.

 

What you can do

Make sure your child's vaccinations are up to date. This helps to protect them against the main types of meningitis. For more information:  *Click Here* 

Know the signs and symptoms of meningitis and sepsis. Seek help immediately if you are worried about your child. 

 

Who can help?

If you are not sure whether your child is seriously unwell, call 111 or your GP for advice.

Remember that you know your child best: if you think your child is seriously unwell and may have meningitis, do not wait for a rash to appear.

In an emergency, call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E department.

Meningitis can develop quickly. Even if your child has been seen by a health professional and sent home, keep an eye on them. If you are worried they are getting worse or seem sicker than you would expect, act quickly. Speak to a health professional and ask, "Could this be meningitis?"

Childhood illnesses: local contacts

  • Bedfordshire

    For non-urgent advice as a parent, you can text a Bedfordshire Community Services health visitor on Parentline, 07507 331456.

    For non-urgent advice as a young person aged 11-19, text our school nursing team on ChatHealth, 07507 331450.  

  • Luton

    If you're a parent requiring non-urgent advice, you can call your Luton health visiting team on 0333 405 0087, Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm. 

    If you're aged 11-19 and would like some non-urgent advice, text your Luton school nursing team on ChatHealth, 07520 616070. 

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