The very word meningitis can strike fear into the hearts of many parents, especially as the condition can turn deadly so quickly. However, if caught early, the prognosis for children is actually very good, which is why it is so important to recognise the warning signs and act fast. Here are the top five signs and what to do if you spot one or more on your child.
This is the tell tale sign that all is not well. A high temperature or fever in a baby is never a good thing and should be looked at by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if it is just to rule out meningitis.
If your baby is crying constantly chances are he is not a happy bunny and is feeling under the weather. Many newborn conditions and illnesses can mean that your baby cries constantly, so don’t assume it is definitely meningitis. However, your baby is obviously trying to tell you something the only way they know how, so make sure they see a doctor.
Irritability or excessive sleeping
Early onset of meningitis can cause your baby to sleep far more than normal or to be very irritable, often crying more than normal. Even when your baby is just a few weeks old you will be familiar with your baby’s routine and how often they sleep, feed and cry. If there is a change, you need to visit your doctor. If your baby is hard to rouse after a sleep, you should take them straight to the hospital.
As with sleeping, you will slip into a feeding routine with your baby and will become accustomed to how often they require a feed. One symptom of meningitis is poor feeding and can alert you that your baby may not be feeling himself. Babies by nature are usually desperate to have their routine feeds, so if your baby refused to feed or appears uninterested, something could well be wrong.
A bulge in your babies fontanel
Your baby’s fontanel is found on his head and is simply the soft spot many babies have when they are very young and their skull hasn’t fully formed yet. However, if you feel a bulge in it, you must contact your doctor immediatley as this could be a sign of pressure on the brain caused by meningitis.
Occasionally, a baby suffering from meningitis will have a seizure. Babies can have seizures for many reasons and it may or not be caused by meningitis, but a seizure is a serious symptom of many conditions and diseases, so medical help should be sought immediately.
Stiffness in baby’s back or neck
In adults, meningitis can start with a very stiff neck and the case is no different for babies — it’s just that they can’t tell you. If you feel your baby’s neck or back appears stiff, they could be suffering from the illness and should be checked out asap.