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To be able to promptly detect meningitis symptoms in children can mean the difference between life and death.

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Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. This condition is potentially life threatening and is known to be more risky in children under five years of age. In most cases, this condition is caused by viral infection which may resolve some weeks after. But bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, can progress and lead to life-threatening situations. Detecting meningitis symptoms in children is more challenging because symptoms can be misleading and can be confused with other conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis in Children

Meningitis is more risky in children compared to adults because they have lower level of resistance. Symptoms include:

  • Fever – This is one of the obvious symptoms of meningitis. The fever usually starts mild and progresses and brings more complicated conditions to the sick child.
  • Lethargy –Kids affected with this condition are usually lethargic or easily exhausted after doing light physical activities. Due to exhaustion, they often feel tired and sleepy and lack interest in playing, studying, and other daily activities.
  • Headache – A child with meningitis usually experiences frequent headaches. This is the result of the inflammation.
  • Rashes on skin – These rashes oftentimes develop due to the reaction of the body to the infiltration of the viruses. These rashes are often succeeded by fever, headache, and lethargy, and can be found on any part of the body.
  • Neck problems – Problem with neck movements, or stiff neck, is one of the many meningitis symptoms in children. This is usually caused by the inflammation in the spinal cord, specifically around the neck area.

Other symptoms of meningitis in children one year and above:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High sensitivity to bright light
  • Confusion, irritability or altered mental state
  • Seizures
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Drowsiness and difficult to wake up

Positive Brudzinski’s sign – a condition wherein the knees are automatically raised up toward the body when the neck is bent forward; or pain is felt on the legs when bent.

Positive Kernig sign – a condition in which the lower legs cannot be straightened even after the hips are flexed 90°.

Meningitis symptoms in toddlers and infants:

  • High fever
  • Poor feeding
  • Constant crying
  • Sluggish and inactive
  • Excessive sleeping and irritability
  • Bulging of the baby’s soft spot or fontanel
  • Seizure
  • Stiffness between the baby’s neck and body area

When to see a Doctor for Meningitis

When your child or toddler manifests high fever, vomiting, confusion, severe headache, or stiff neck, you should consult with a doctor right away. Viral meningitis can go away on its own while bacterial meningitis can be really dangerous and even cause death in children.

Treatment for Meningitis in children

Meningitis can rapidly progress into life threatening situations. So when parents see meningitis symptoms in children, they should act right away to avoid reaching the critical condition. Antibiotics, steroids and other aggressive medications are given to children with bacterial meningitis. This condition progress very rapidly and can kill in hours, so every minute is important. Young children or infants are injected with vaccines for protection against possible infection. Prevention is always way better, so it would be wise to have your kids vaccinated for meningitis.

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