Things we should all know about meningitis

There have been so many reported tragedies relating to meningitis and the misdiagnosis of symptoms in recent years. We believe it is essential that everyone has a reminder about the symptoms.

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is the swelling of the meninges. The meninges is the lining around the brain and spinal cord, caused mainly by germs entering the body.

Anyone can get this condition, anywhere, anytime although some people are at a higher risk.

Young children are at higher risk of contracting it as they do not have such a well-developed immune system. Other age groups can be at risk of contracting different specific types of meningitis.

Globally it is estimated over 5 million people per year are affected by this condition. Some of these will not survive and 2/10 are left with an impairment such as a brain injury or amputation.

Is meningitis contagious?

Meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal bacteria or Hib bacteria are considered infectious, although the vast majority of cases are isolated.  You may need to take anti-biotics or be vaccinated if you have been in close contact with a person who has had bacterial meningitis.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

Unfortunately the symptoms of meningitis can also be associated with other medical conditions. This may be why diagnosis has proved an issue in the past.

The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion.

With regards to the rash element, remember the tumbler test. If you roll a glass over the rash and can still see the rash you should seek urgent medical help.

As the rash is not always the first symptom to appear however, if you suspect meningitis before this happens you should seek medical assistance urgently.

For a more in depth explanation please visit the following website where you can find valuable information:

Even if you have a private medical insurance policy in place, meningitis needs to be treated urgently if suspected.  In the first instance therefore you would look to the NHS for treatment. Health insurance does not offer cover for accident and emergency treatment.

If you would like to know more about private medical insurance and what it does and doesn’t offer cover for the team at SMP healthcare would be happy to help you.

Please contact us on 01245 929129 / 0800 047 0127