Meningitis: Dr Hilary outlines the main symptoms
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Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord and can cause life-threatening blood poisoning if not treated quickly. Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine, Josie, 18, retold her experience with the condition, saying it was her mum who recognised the symptoms. She said: “If you’re aware of the symptoms, you’ve got a chance. People can think it’s a hangover. It’s so quick and happens so fast, you can go downhill really quickly.”
She continued: “We thought it was sunstroke. I’d been sunbathing literally hours before. I started feeling a bit unwell, started shaking uncontrollably, couldn’t for 45 minutes, and I’m starting to think this isn’t normal.
“So I called mum up because she was out. I was like ‘I’m really not normal’ because I’d been shaking and because I was getting quite hot, and she was like ‘Well that’s sun stroke, isn’t it?’.
“Then the temperature came on and mum was like ’Well that’s not sun stroke’. Then we thought I had the flu.
“Then, come 3 o’clock in the morning I’d slept in mum’s bed so she could keep an eye on me and stuff, and I just didn’t want to move, and I had three tiny dots in the inside of my arm.
“And that’s when we realised…”
Josie was rushed to intensive care and put in an induced coma after her organs began to fail.
The three tiny dots had also grown into a “dalmatian-like” rash that covered a whole body.
Jay recognised the rash and Josie’s other symptoms as her husband and Josie’s father, Dave Colquhoun, had contracted the condition 19 years earlier.
While a rash is one of the more noticeable symptoms of meningitis, Dr Hilary warned viewers on Lorraine about the other symptoms to look out for.
He explained: “When this happens the symptoms can look like any other conditions that are more common, like flu or hangovers or being out in the sun.
“But the typical symptoms would be high temperature, nausea, stiff neck, headache and photophobia – dislike of bright lights.
“The rash occurs late on. But once you see that rash that doesn’t blanch when you press a glass against it, that’s a sign of bleeding into the skin.
“It’s a late sign of septicaemia which can accompany meningitis which occurs first and the mortality’s about 20 percent.”
The NHS lists the symptoms of meningitis as:
- a high temperature
- cold hands and feet
- breathing quickly
- muscle and joint pain
- pale, mottled or blotchy skin
- spots or a rash
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- being very sleepy or difficult to wake
- fits (seizures)
Babies may also:
- refuse feeds
- be irritable
- have a high-pitched cry
- have a stiff body or be floppy or unresponsive
- have a bulging soft spot on the top of their head
The health body advises: “Someone with meningitis, septicaemia or meningococcal disease can get a lot worse very quickly.
“Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E if you think you or your child might be seriously ill.
“Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you’re not sure if it’s anything serious.”
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