Let’s tackle it together.

Know the symptoms

Knowing the symptoms of meningitis is essential because acting fast may help to reduce the life-changing impact of this potentially deadly condition. It’s also important to know how to recognise septicaemia (blood poisoning) as this can also happen alongside meningitis.

KNOW THE SYMPTOMS

Know the symptoms

Common early symptoms of meningitis vary depending on a person’s age – they can appear in any order and some may not appear at all. They are very similar to a lot of other conditions so if you're unsure, follow your instincts and seek medical advice as soon as you can.


DO NOT WAIT FOR A RASH THAT DOES NOT FADE UNDER PRESSURE.


THIS CAN BE A SIGN OF SEPTICAEMIA (BLOOD POISONING), WHICH NORMALLY


HAPPENS ONCE BACTERIAL MENINGITIS HAS TAKEN HOLD.


SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY IF THIS TYPE OF RASH APPEARS.



If you see a rash, do the glass test. Press the side of a clear drinking glass firmly onto the rash, spots or bruises. If it is septicaemia, they will not fade.

symptoms

Symptoms of meningitis in babies and toddlers

(under 5 years)

Early symptoms

(may appear in any order or not at all)

  • Fever
  • Fever with cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache



1 IN 5 MENINGITIS SURVIVORS HAVE

PERMANENT AFTER EFFECTS – SKIN SCARS,

LIMB AMPUTATION(S), HEARING LOSS,

SEIZURES AND BRAIN DAMAGE

Later symptoms

(may appear in any order or not at all)

  • Rapid breathing or grunting
  • Tense, bulging fontanelle (soft spot)
  • Unusual cry, moaning
  • Fretful, dislike of being handled
  • Neck stiffness
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Pale blotchy skin, spots or a rash that does not fade under pressure (this can be a sign of septicaemia)
  • Refusing food
  • Drowsy, floppy, unresponsive

Symptoms of meningitis in children, teenagers and young adults3

Early symptoms

(may appear in any order or not at all)

  • Fever
  • Fever with cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache



1 IN 5 MENINGITIS SURVIVORS HAVE

PERMANENT AFTER EFFECTS – SKIN SCARS,

LIMB AMPUTATION(S), HEARING LOSS,

SEIZURES AND BRAIN DAMAGE

Later symptoms

(may appear in any order or not at all)

  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Drowsy, difficult to wake
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Pale blotchy skin, spots or a rash that does not fade under pressure (this can be a sign of septicaemia)
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Trust your instincts

Act as soon as you think you or your child has meningitis.
Don’t wait for a rash to develop: trust your instincts and get help immediately.

ambulance

Call 999 for an ambulance

A and E

Go to your nearest accident and emergency
(A&E) department

phone

Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery
if you think your family may have been exposed to someone with meningitis

How can I help tackle meningitis?