Early Signs & Symptoms of Meningitis

Meningitis represents the swelling of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by variety of pathogens like viruses, fungi or bacteria. Most of the times, meningitis is caused by bacteria and viruses. A neurologist has to be consulted if you experience any of the below mentioned signs or symptoms of meningitis.

Early Signs & Symptoms of Meningitis

Signs of Meningitis

Meningitis is characterised by these early signs. Since it is a deadly infection, immediate medical attention should be sought in case any of the given signs appear in an individual:


  • Fever over 37.5C (99.5F)
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Fatigue, with aching muscles and joints
  • Headache, a stiff neck
  • Sudden increased sensitivity to light
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale, mottled skin
  • Confusion and drowsiness
  • Fits (seizures)


  • Refuse feeds
  • Agitated and crying at high pitch
  • Bulging soft spot on their head
  • Sluggish and unresponsive
  • An unusual high-pitched cry
  • Arching neck and stiff body

Early meningitis symptoms usually mimic flu symptoms and may be difficult to identify and differentiate. It is later on that the physician is able to identify meningitis from flue based on few differentiating symptoms.

Symptoms of Meningitis

If the early signs of meingitis are not taken care of, then it may manifest into one or more of the following symptoms of meningitis

  1. Meningitis Rash

    Meningitis caused by bacteria is quite common. These bacteria reproduce in the bloodstream and release poisonous substances that cause damage to the blood vessels. This causes a faint skin rash that may be pink, red or purple in colour and may appear as pinpricks. These pinpricks eventually appear as blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it. As the infection spreads, the rash becomes more conspicuous. Bleeding under the skin may be observed causing the spots to turn dark red or deep purple. The rash may grow up into bruises. At times, it will be difficult to take note of these bruises and palms, eyelids, and inside the mouth are good areas to check for its presence. Also, not in every case there will be a rash.

  2. Tissue damage

    As the rash spreads it becomes darker and the condition stands worsened. The damage caused to blood vessels contributes indirectly to fall in blood pressure. This leads to failure of blood to reach the extremities and limbs which are at the far reaches of the circulatory system, get most affected. Decrease in blood pressure leads to inadequate oxygen delivery causing tissue injury making it necessary to amputate fingers, toes, arms, or legs in extreme cases.

  3. Abnormal arch

    Meningitis often leads to neck pain and stiffness, causing head, neck, and spine to become rigid and arch backwards. These symptoms are more evident in infants and young children. In extreme cases, the child may become very sensitive to light, which reflect serous infection.

Also read about Migraine – Causes & Treatment

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