6 Meningitis Symptoms that Parents Shouldn't Overlook

Because meningitis can show in so many different ways in younger patients, if there are any suspicious symptoms that might hint at the infection, the child should undergo a spinal tap to be sure
6 Meningitis Symptoms that Parents Shouldn't Overlook

Last update: 12 May, 2022

Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes in the brain and spinal cord.

Children are more likely to suffer from the infection. In today’s post, we’ll show you the steps you should take as a parent that can help you identify the symptoms that your child is showing.

Meningitis symptoms that we shouldn’t overlook

1. Intense headache

In small children, headaches become unbearable. Sometimes it can even reach to the child’s neck as well.

In the case of newborns, bulging fontanelle is a characteristic symptom of the infection.

2. Stomachache, nausea and vomiting

These symptoms are common in the initial phases of the infection. Along with these symptoms, the patient might lose their appetite, partially as a response to the painful abdominal cramping.

3. Photosensitivity 

Another problem that shows in meningitis cases is photophobia, also known as light sensitivity.

When exposed to large amounts of light, especially sunlight, their eyes begin to water. At the same time, photophobia also comes with nausea and worsening headaches.

4. Neck stiffness

When observing the actions of a child who suffers from the infection, he or she will often be in an easily recognizable body position:

  • While laying on their side, patients will keep their heads leaning backwards and their legs bent.
  • They go into this position trying to extend their neck without being able to because of the stiffness.

5. Double vision and fever

Children suffer when focusing their vision on something, which results in double vision. A fever is the main symptomChildren with meningitis have spasms and continually complain from being cold.

Once their temperature rises, it’s difficult to control. However, because fevers are a common issue, you should always look for other, more telling signs.

6. Skin rashes

Skin rashes or flare-ups also tend to be present in children with meningitis.

  • To check if your child has the infection or not, you only need to reach for a transparent glass cup.
  • Press it against the rash and see if the skin lightens afterwards. If the skin lightens, it’s not a meningitis case.
  • However, if the rash stays the same color, you should make an appointment to see the doctor.

This is an infection that you don’t want to brush aside. For children, we should be very alert to their symptoms and moods.

You should call a special care unit for a diagnosis. If the tests come out positive for meningitis, you immediately make your way to a medical center for treatment.

Vaccines for meningitis

Using vaccines, there are some “preventable” strains of meningitis. Currently, some of the most common and available are the following:

  • Meningococcus vaccine
  • Haemophilus vaccine
  • Pneumococcus vaccine

Some of these are excluded from certain vaccination schedules.

However, the aforementioned vaccines aren’t guaranteed to completely protect children from the infection because they’re only relevant for certain antigens of the bacterial strain.

How do newborn babies show meningitis?

In the meningitis cases of newborns or infants, they appear irritated, nervous or simply without appetite.

  • A fever is the first signal, but there are times where hypothermia can be the case.
  • Agitated respiration and convulsions might also be visible symptoms.

Newborns are in a very delicate life stage. Because their craniums aren’t entirely formed, their fontanelle, or their soft spot, bulge.

Common meningitis symptoms show when pediatricians examine their young central nervous system. There might be red spots resulting from meningococcal.

Because of the various ways that meningitis can show in young children, if there are any suspicions of the infection, they should undergo a spinal tap to rule out any possibility of the infection.

If a newborn has a fever without any apparent cause, the medical specialist might perform a spinal tap despite a lack of other symptoms.