This post is slightly less cheerful than my normal ones, but this weekend I spent 8 hours in A&E with suspected meningitis, thankfully it wasn’t but this post is a reminder of the symptoms to look out for. Also if you are a first year student please make sure you get the free vaccine (I had it but there are a few types of meningitis).
Meningitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection and is often spread by people who carry the disease but aren’t ill themselves.
Meningitis can be fatal and can also cause a number of other horrible things including: hearing and vision loss, issues with memory or concentration (not great for studying!), epilepsy, problems with movement (including balance and coordination) and even the possible amputation of affected limbs.
So please, please, please look out for the following symptoms (taken from the NHS website):
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- being sick
- a headache
- a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it (this won’t always develop)
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- drowsiness or unresponsiveness
- seizures (fits)
BUT not all these symptoms will always be present in someone with meningitis.
So if you think you or someone you know has meningitis please do what I did, ring 111 and take their advice. If they have any doubt they will probably ask you to go to A&E. I ended up having a blood test at 1am which thankfully came back clear!
But meningitis is treatable if it’s caught in time, so always get it checked if you are in doubt! We are lucky enough to have free emergency healthcare for situations like this and it’s really important to use it when you need to!