Signs of meningitis in newborns
Meningitis is a series of conditions, and it affects various age groups and often, if gone untreated, could result in death. Sadly, even newborn babies are not exempt from the dangers of contracting it. Infants and newborns often do not have the typical signs of meningitis, such as a stiff neck and headache. Symptoms of the condition in children under the age of 2 includes:
- Constant crying
- Cold hands and feet
- High fever
- Lack of activity, increased sleepiness
- Poor nursing or feeding
- Rigidity or stiffness in the body and neck
- Irritability, inability to be comforted
- Bulging of the soft spot on the top of an infant’s head
- Drowsy and/or unresponsive
Symptoms of meningitis
The most common symptoms of meningitis in adults include:
- Stiff or rigid neck
- Extremely painful and unrelenting headache
When to see a doctor
It is critical to get medical care immediately in the presence of the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
While viral meningitis may not require emergency treatment, bacterial meningitis can quickly become life-threatening. Putting off treatment increases the chance of severe complications or death. There is no way of knowing what type of meningitis is causing the symptoms without seeing a doctor. In addition, if you live, work with, or are in close contact with someone who has meningitis, talk to your doctor about preventative medications.
In order to diagnose meningitis, your physician will want to know your or your child’s medical history and perform a thorough physical examination. During the examination, the physician will be checking for evidence of meningitis, especially around the throat, ears, head, and skin surfaces of the spine. Some tests are used to diagnose meningitis, and the results of these tests can also be used to guide your doctor in your care and treatment.
- Blood cultures: To check for meningitis, blood will be taken from one of your veins and sent to a laboratory. It will be examined in different ways to see if bacteria are present, and it will also be placed in a special container to see what kind of bacteria, if any, grow.
- Imaging studies: Computerized tomography, also called CT scans, and X-rays of the sinuses, head, or chest can show any swelling present in these areas. Scans and X-rays may be taken of other parts of your body to help your doctor find the source of your infection.
- Lumbar puncture: This is also called a “spinal tap.” The fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain, known as the cerebrospinal fluid or CSF, must be examined in a laboratory to confirm meningitis diagnosis. To obtain a sample of CSF, a lumbar puncture is completed. The fluid is collected by inserting a needle into the space between two vertebrae and withdrawing the CSF into a syringe. If meningitis is present, the cerebrospinal fluid will typically contain an increased amount of protein and white blood cells and a decreased amount of glucose. By examining the CSF fluid, your physician may also identify the microorganism causing meningitis so that the correct antibiotics can be prescribed.
Home test for signs and symptoms of meningitis
As mentioned, meningitis can sometimes have side effect and symptom that includes a rash, but you can test the rash to see whether or not it is related to meningitis. For example, patients with Septicaemia may develop meningitis due to the infection within the blood. In some cases, these patients may develop meningitis or a rash that could result from the development of meningitis. Use a glass to test the symptoms of meningitis at the appearance of a rash:
- Press a clear glass onto the rash
- The rash spots may fade while the pressure is applied
- If the patient has a fever and a rash, check to see if the spots fade with the pressure of the clear glass
- If the rash does not fade under pressure, seek immediate medical assistance
It is important to seek immediate medical care as soon as signs and symptoms of meningitis begin to appear. The treatment of meningitis depends on the type of infection or another factor causing the condition.
You can read about the treatment of this disease in our next article – “Treatment. Meningitis”