When we become sick, it’s easy to mistaken our symptoms with the flu. Take meningitis for example, it causes stiffness, headaches and a high fever. But to the average person this may seem like a cold, and due to that assumption, it may not get treated with the proper care.
Typically, meningitis is triggered by a bacterial or viral fungal infection, and if left untreated can become life threatening if the proper antibiotics are not taken.
With that said, if you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from meningitis, the following symptoms will be evident.
Stiffness: Most people suffering from meningitis will experience stiffness in the neck and back because the inflammation spurs from the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It’s the constant swelling that causes the discomfort, and if you begin to experience a sudden fever or headache to go along with that pain, you may have meningitis.
If you are suffering from a cold, this could develop into what is called viral meningitis. This type of meningitis is not harmful or potentially harmful to your health or others. But if you also have an unexplained stiffness in your neck, you should go see a doctor just.
Fever: The onset of a sudden fever will occur with meningitis as it enters the body, the immune system reacts by increasing the body temperature. If you have developed meningitis, you will experience a fever between 3-7 days.
Unfortunately this symptom is not the most common symptom to look out for. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, only 44% of patients that have this infection will show this sign. This can make self-diagnosing extremely difficult, so if you’re fever does not subside, go consult a doctor.
Headache: Another telltale sign of meningitis is a severe headache that will not go away. This is due to the inflammation and swelling in the membranes that are surrounding your neck and spinal cord. Headaches are considered one of the most common symptoms of meningitis.
It is important to identify what type of headache you have. Typically if you have meningitis, the headache you will experience is not the same as a normal headache. It will not subside unless proper meningitis medication is taken.
Confusion: When your brain experiences severe swelling, it can hinder your ability to function. So if you are suffering from meningitis, your brain will swell and you may experience confusion, inability to focus, memory loss, insomnia, dizziness, and difficulties waking up.
When you are experiencing confusion, it can present itself in many different ways. For instance, you may have trouble discerning what is a dream and what is real, your memories may not be clear or you may completely forget certain milestones. For some people, mainly those who are older in age, can deal with this confusion for quite some time.
Sensitive to Light: Meningitis can cause severe light sensitivity, which squinting, blurry vision and difficulty with vision will occur under bright lights or the sun. As a result, you may start to experience a headache because of this.
The reason your vision becomes blurry when suffering from meningitis is because the optic nerve begins to swell. In most cases the swelling will go down and your normal vision will be restored. However, in severe cases of meningitis, partial or full blindness can occur in both eyes with no chance at reversal.
Nausea: If you suffer from meningitis, vomiting and nausea will occur at the early stages. As the infection makes its way through the body, it will upset the stomach and cause vomiting. Often people will lose their appetite as well. Depending on the severity of the infection, extreme weight loss can occur as well.
Those who already have a weakened immune system prior to meningitis are more susceptible to catching the infection. The symptoms they experience may also be much worse because of the body’s inability to fight off the infection.
Rash: Often times babies and toddlers who experience meningitis will often develop a rash. The rashes appear from the bacteria multiplying in the bloodstream, which release poisons that begin to damage the blood vessels, resulting in a rash.
The best way to test if your rash is just an irritated infection or a cause of meningitis is the glass test. Take a glass and press it up against an area where the rash is. If the marks stay the same – that you can see them clearly through the glass, go see a doctor. But if the marks fade with the pressure of the glass, it’s just an irritated rash.
Loss of Appetite: Because of the nausea and constant vomiting, meningitis can affect the digestive system in a big way. You may lose your appetite or even avoid eating all together because you fear you might vomit it all up. This could lead to unhealthy weight loss which can lead to even more health problems.
As tough as it may seem, you need to try and consume food when dealing with meningitis. The more nutrients you put into your body, the stronger your immune system will become so it can fight off the infection. In severe cases, people will get admitted to the hospital so they can be put on an intravenous so the patient can stay hydrated.