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Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms

Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms

Bacterial meningitis is extremely serious and can be deadly.

Bacterial meningitis can be severe and identifying the symptoms can save your life. Bacterial meningitis typically starts with headache and fever, which are general to numerous illnesses such as influenza (flu) therefore diagnosing bacterial meningitis can be complex during the early stage. Symptoms more precise to bacterial meningitis include severe headache, pain when bending the neck forward or a stiff neck, and at times sensitivity to light.

Symptoms such as bewilderment, sluggishness, or seizures may follow soon after early stage.

Symptoms can develop rapidly, and some patients experience hallucination or coma by the time they try to find treatment.

Meningitis and septicemia are likely to show comparable symptoms and incidences as both have a propensity to rise and fall at the identical time in biological areas. Symptoms are often misinterpreted.

Difference between bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis symptoms:

  • Viral meningitis – Headache, stiff neck, fever, might be sensitive to light, lethargy, bewilderment.
  • Bacterial meningitis – Severe headache, stiff neck, fever, light sensitive, lethargy, confusion and a rash, nausea, vomiting, and a stinging throat can also arise.


  • Viral meningitis – Usually clears within 7 to 10 days. Home treatment can be applied successfully.
  • Bacterial meningitis – Can be life-threatening. Hospitalization or immediate professional medical care is needed.

Extended list of possible signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis (adults):

  • Very high temperature (fever)
  • Stiff neck that makes bending the neck forward painful or impossible
  • Muscle pain
  • Constant severe headache
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Bewilderment or trouble concentrating
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy or trouble staying awake and alert
  • Sensitivity to light (light tend to enhance headache)
  • Appetite loss
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Skin irritation (rash). A rash that does not lose color under pressure. This rash usually starts as a few tiny spots in any part of the body. These spots may spread rapidly (caused by blood leaking into tissue under the skin). In some cases the rash fades and re-emerges.

It is of utmost importance to spot the symptoms of bacterial meningitis in children and infants to prevent permanent disability and in severe cases death.


  • A shrill, moaning cry or constant crying
  • High temperature (fever)
  • A bulging fontanel (soft spot on baby’s head)
  • Difficult to wake up, inactivity or irritability
  • Limp and listless or inflexible with jerky movements
  • Poor appetite or refusing feeds
  • Fast/ abnormal/ difficult breathing
  • Pale or spotty skin (red or purple spots that do not lose color under pressure)

Older children:

  • Fever
  • A stiff neck and or muscles (pains and aches in their back and joints)
  • Drowsiness or puzzlement
  • Severe headache
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Hands and feet are cold to the touch
  • Quivering
  • Nausea and or vomiting
  • Irregular breathing
  • Red or purple spots that do not lose color under pressure

Children may not display all of the above symptoms and watchful waiting is not advised. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect bacterial meningitis. It is crucial to spot the symptoms of bacterial meningitis as soon as possible to ensure timely and accurate treatment.

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