Meningitis Symptoms, Causes, and Medical Care

Meningitis symptoms cannot be easily spotted. People usually confuse the early meningitis symptoms with the flu (influenza). Actually, meningitis can come on the heels of an infection or flu-like illness. That’s the reason why is truly important to stay alert and to learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis in order to act quickly and save a life.

 The Most Common Meningitis Symptoms

Symptoms can appear over several hours or a few days. Possible meningitis symptoms in every person older than the age of 2 include:

  • Stiff neck
  • Sudden very high fever
  • Severe strong headaches
  • A headache with vomiting or nausea
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty concentrating and confusion
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty waking or sleepiness
  • No thirst or appetite

Signs and symptoms in babies

Babies may have these signs and symptoms:

  • Constant crying
  • High fever
  • Sluggishness or inactivity
  • Irritability or excessive sleepiness
  • Stiffness in a baby’s neck and body
  • Poor feeding
  • Swelling in the soft spot on top of the baby’s head

Babies with meningitis can be difficult to calm and comfort, and can even cry harder when they are held.

Meningitis Symptoms

Causes of meningitis

Viral infections are the main cause of meningitis. They can be followed by bacterial infection and, infrequently, a fungal infection. Identifying the cause is really essential because the bacterial infection can be life-threatening.

Types of meningitis

There are two types of meningitis:

  1. Bacterial meningitis

It is more severe than viral meningitis. The symptoms of bacterial meningitis usually start suddenly and get worse very rapidly.

Bacterial meningitis can lead to blood poisoning (septicemia). If you suspect bacterial meningitis, contact your doctor immediately. 

  1. Viral meningitis 

Many people with this type of meningitis have mild flu symptoms, as:

  • Strong headaches
  • Fever

In more serious cases of viral meningitis, the symptoms can include:

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Neck stiffness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Diarrhea

Viral meningitis doesn’t usually lead to blood poisoning (septicemia). 

Viral or Bacterial Meningitis? 

It isn’t possible to tell the difference between viral and bacterial meningitis just from the symptoms. Clinical tests are required to differentiate between the 2 types of meningitis. Hence, each case of suspected meningitis need to be treated as a medical emergency.

Very Important Information (VIP):

A fever with a blotchy red rash that does not change color or fade at all when a glass is pressed against it – it can be a symptom of bacterial meningitis. In this case, you should seek immediate medical help.  

When to Seek Medical Care for Meningitis Symptoms? 

If you suspect that your baby or someone from your family has meningitis, seek for medical help right away.

  • Call your doctor and describe the symptoms.
  • Call 911 or go immediately to the emergency center if your doctor isn’t reachable right away.
  • Remember that the person who is ill shouldn’t drive.




Every suspected meningitis case should be treated as a medical emergency. If you notice some of these meningitis symptoms you need to seek medical care. Bacterial meningitis can easily lead to blood poisoning (septicemia), which can be fatal.

Share this article with your family members or friends, so they can learn more about this terrible condition and easily recognize the meningitis symptoms.


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