Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms


The meninges cover the brain and spinal cord. When they become infected with a bacteria, a person develops bacterial meningitis. Bacteria that commonly causes meningitis includes streptococcus pneumoniae, which usually leads to ear infections or pneumonia, or neisseria meningitidis, according to The symptoms of the disease are often similar to those of the flu. Since it is a fast moving, potentially deadly disease, if your child exhibits any symptoms, you should take him to the doctor right away.

Stiff Neck

A stiff neck is a common symptom of bacterial meningitis. According to Merck, the stiff neck is usually extremely painful and more than a simple crick-in-the-neck feeling. Your child may not be able to bring his chin to his chest due to neck pain and stiffness, but he may be able to turn it side to side without trouble. Babies under 1 year of age typically do not get this symptom.


A fever is another common symptom of bacterial meningitis. Unfortunately, it is also a common symptom of a wide range of diseases, such as the flu, so you may not be aware someone has meningitis due to a fever. Typically, the fever rises over the course of a few days and may follow symptoms of a respiratory tract infection, according to Merck.

Sensitivity to Light

Bacterial meningitis also typically causes people to feel some sensitivity to bright light, also known as photophobia. Your child may find it difficult to look into lights or may squint his eyes or complain of the light.


Irritability or fussiness commonly occurs in babies who have bacterial meningitis. Your baby may dislike being held; he may squirm and fuss. He may cry a lot and stop feeding as well. Older children and teenagers as well as adults may also become irritable.


Some infants, children and adults with meningitis may experience drowsiness. You may notice that your baby is sleeping an excessive amount. If the disease progresses without treatment, it may become more and more difficult to rouse a person from his drowsiness. In some instances, it may lead to a coma.

Rash on the Skin

Some types of bacterial meningitis cause a rash to form on the lower part of the body, according to Merck. Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus, usually causes the rash. The bacteria can also spread to other parts of the body, causing meningococcemia. When a patient develops meningococcemia, red or purples rashes form due to bleeding beneath the skin and in the organs, according to Merck.



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