Top 10 Meningitis Symptoms

Meningitis is an infection that results in the inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. While individuals of any age can contract meningitis, the disease is most prevalent in infants, children and young adults.

Meningitis is a serious disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Due to the location of the meninges, this infection often results in damage to the nerves or brain, which can be permanent. It can also result in conditions such as septicemia [1] (blood poisoning by bacteria).

There are a variety of reasons this condition arises. The most common causes [2] are bacterial and viral infections. Viral meningitis is the most prevalent type of meningitis but it often resolves on its own. Bacterial meningitis is the most severe, often resulting in death if left untreated. Up to 45 percent [3] of children who contract bacterial meningitis die even with proper treatment. In adults, the mortality rate is between 20 and 50 percent [4]. Less common causes of meningitis include cancer, fungal infection, chemical irritation and drug allergies.

About 1,000 Americans [5] come down with meningitis every year. Transmission may occur through sneezing, coughing, kissing or close body contact. Most people contract this infection from asymptomatic carriers so prevention is challenging.

The symptoms of meningitis sometimes appear suddenly. Here are ten of the most common of them:

High Temperature & Headache

The onset of fever is one of the earliest signs of an infection with meningitis. This symptom is common in all age groups and is caused by the body’s immune response to the infection. Fever brought about by meningitis will usually exceed 103 degrees but sometimes it doesn’t.

Most headaches have benign causes and are easy to overlook, but sometimes they can be indicative of more serious health conditions. Infection with meningitis often causes headaches which may sometimes co-occur with feelings of nausea and light sensitivity. Many people who have had meningitis describe the headaches as some of the worst they have ever experienced.