Meningitis symptoms in kids

February 28, 2024

Meningitis symptoms in kids
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Meningitis in Kids

The thin membranes covering the brain and spinal cord enlarge when meningitis occurs. We refer to these membranes as meninges.The most common cause of meningitis is an infection, either bacterial or viral, that spreads to the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). A parasite or fungus may induce meningitis. Only youngsters with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience this.


The three thin tissue layers called meninges that cover the brain and spinal cord become inflamed when an infection called meningitis occurs. Both bacteria and viruses can cause meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is typically more serious than viral meningitis. Permanent harm, such as hearing loss, mental retardation, or even death, can result from bacterial meningitis.Brain damage can occasionally result from swelling. Meningitis can be brought on by drugs, wounds, and diseases including lupus and cancer, but infections are the most frequent cause.

Certain meningitis infections are prevented by vaccination, but not all are.

Meningitis in kids

Meninges, the membranes that encircle the brain and spinal cord, can become infected, leading to meningitis.Although anybody can have it, newborns, young children, teenagers, and young adults are the most common age groups.

If left untreated, meningitis can become quite serious.It can lead to irreversible damage to the brain or nerves and potentially culminate in sepsis, a potentially fatal blood poisoning.

Children at higher risk of Meningitis 

Meningitis brought on by a bacterial or viral infection is more common in children. The following children have a higher risk of contracting the illness:

  • Babies and newborns (the germs can more easily enter their bloodstream due to their underdeveloped immune systems.)
  • Youngsters who get sinus infections often
  • Children without cochlear implants;
  • Those who have recently undergone brain surgery;
  • Those who have recently suffered severe head injuries and skull fractures;
  • Those who have not received the prescribed vaccine schedule

Causes of Meningitis in kids

Sepsis, or bloodstream infection, is typically the cause of meningitis in infants. Most frequently, group B streptococci, Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes are the germs that cause the infection that are obtained from the birth canal.

Older infants and kids typically become infected when they come into touch with respiratory secretions (such nasal mucus or saliva) that are contaminated with the meningitis-causing bacteria. Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae are two bacteria that can affect older infants and children. Meningitis was mostly caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B, but it is now uncommon due to extensive vaccination against that bacterium.

Types of Meningitis

The different types of meningitis are as follows:

Bacterial Meningitis: Bacterial meningitis is typically transmitted from person to person due to the involvement of multiple types of bacteria. Both adults and children in good health have the microorganisms on or in their bodies. Although they can transmit the bacterium to others, it does not imply that they will get sick. It is critical to get medical attention as soon as possible since bacterial meningitis can be fatal.

Viral Meningitis: Viruses are the primary cause of meningitis infections. While viral meningitis may not be severe, in infants under three months of age and in other children at high risk, it frequently has a more severe course. Serious episodes of viral meningitis can be caused by some viruses, including herpes simplex, even in older individuals and children.

Amebic Meningitis: Naegleria fowleri is the amoeba that causes amebic meningitis. As the amoeba ascends the nose and reaches the brain, it infects humans. It is not contagious. The warm freshwater lakes and rivers where people swim are home to amoeba. Additionally, contaminated soil, tap water, and splash pads can all harbour this amoeba.

Parasitic Meningitis: Compared to bacterial and viral meningitis, parasitic meningitis occurs far less frequently. Animals host the majority of parasites. Humans can become infected by eating contaminated food or by unintentionally swallowing dirt polluted by diseased animal excrement.

Fungal Meningitis: Many forms of fungi that are found in the environment, specifically in the soil, can cause fungal meningitis. Infection control techniques can also transmit this infection to patients if they are not followed.

Additional causes of meningitis: Meningitis can arise from non-infectious sources as well. Chemical reactions, medication allergies, some cancers, and inflammatory illnesses like sarcoidosis are among them.

Symptoms of Meningitis in Kids

Meningitis caused by bacteria and viruses can present with similar signs and symptoms.

The following are early warning signs:

  • Fever and chills, with a rectal temperature (the temperature of a child’s bottom) of more than 100.4°F or 38˚C. Infants younger than three months might not feel feverish.
  • Increased fatigue
  • Crankiness and fussiness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting (throwing up)
  • An unusually high-pitched cry
  • Your child may hold their neck motionless or cry when it moves
  • Bulging at the fontanel (soft place) on their head occasionally in babies

The signs which develop in the advanced stages of meningitis are:

  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Bewilderment
  • Loss of consciousness, not waking up when touched
  • Stumbling or wobbling when walking
  • Hallucinations

Complications due to Meningitis

Serious consequences can arise from meningitis. The likelihood of seizures and long-term neurological impairment increases with the length of time  your kid has the disease without receiving therapy. Some other complications arising out of menigitis are as follows:

  • Memory Issues.
  • Deficits in learning.
  • Damage to the brain.
  • Having difficulty walking.
  • Fits and seizures.
  • Failure of the kidney.
  • Perish.
  • Distress.
  • Difficulty in hearing.

Diagnosing Meningitis in kids

The doctor will inquire about your child’s medical history and symptoms. Also, he or she might inquire about the medical history of your family. He or she will examine your youngster medically. Additionally, your child can have tests including a spinal tap (lumbar puncture), blood tests, MRI or CT scan and swabs from nose, throat or the rectum.


The thin membranes covering the brain and spinal cord become inflamed when meningitis occurs.Most frequently, it is brought on by an infection that spreads to the cerebral spinal fluid, either bacterial or viral. In addition, a parasite or fungus may induce meningitis.Viral meningitis is less severe and typically occurs more frequently. Typically more severe, bacterial meningitis can result in death or long-term problems.

The respiratory tract is where infections typically begin. It may initially result in a cold, sinus infection, or ear infection in a youngster. The brain and spinal cord may then be affected after it enters the bloodstream.There are numerous vaccinations available to protect against some of the viral and bacterial illnesses that can result in meningitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the initial symptom of meningitis?

Your child may experience symptoms similar to the flu during the early stages of meningitis.

Does meningitis spread easily?

It is not possible to spread meningitis. However, a few of its causes are. There are numerous ways to transmit both viral and bacterial meningitis to other persons.

What is the initial diagnosis for meningitis in my child?

Your physician will review your child’s medical history, perform a physical examination, feel for stiffness in your child’s neck, and look for any skin rashes that might indicate a bacterial infection

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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