Symptoms of Meningitis

Symptoms - Meningitis

A classic symptoms of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, but this doesn’t appear in many cases.

You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you’re concerned about yourself or your child. Trust your instincts and don’t wait until a rash develops.

Symptoms of Meningitis

Symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all.

Common signs & symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia

  • Adult with a feverFever, cold hands and feet
  • Adult vomitingVomiting
  • A sleepy adultDrowsy, difficult to wake
  • A confused adultConfusion and irritability
  • Adult with severe muscle painSevere muscle pain
  • A pale adultPale, blotchy skin. Spots/rash
    See the Glass Test
  • Adult looking fretfulSevere headache
  • Adult with stiff neckStiff neck
  • Adult disliking the lightDislike bright lights
  • Adult having convulsionsConvulsions/seizures

Early symptoms can include:

Fever, headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet.

Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly. Keep checking them.

Trust your instincts – Get medical help immediately

Meningitis rash

Symptoms - Meningitis

Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The rash usually starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches

Symptoms - Meningitis

Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

It doesn’t fade if you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin

If a rash doesn’t fade under a glass, it’s a sign of blood poisoning (septicaemia) caused by meningitis and you should get medical advice right away.

The rash can be harder to see on dark skin. Check for spots on paler areas like the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, the tummy, inside the eyelids, and the roof of the mouth.

Other symptoms of meningitis

Meningitis can have a number of other symptoms, too, including:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • feeling and being sick
  • irritability and a lack of energy
  • a headache
  • aching muscles and joints
  • breathing quickly
  • cold hands and feet
  • pale, mottled skin
  • a stiff neck
  • confusion
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • drowsiness
  • fits (seizures)

Babies may also:

  • refuse feeds
  • be agitated and not want to be picked up
  • have a bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
  • be floppy or unresponsive
  • have an unusual high-pitched cry
  • have a stiff body

These symptoms can develop in any order and some may not appear.

Trust your instincts – Get medical help immediately:

If you are living in UK, contact  below:

Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department if you think you or your child might be seriously ill.
Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you’re not sure if it’s anything serious.

If you are living in US, contact below:

Meningitis Foundation of America


Address: P. O. Box 1818
El Mirage, AZ 85335 USA

Phone: 4802702652

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