How to spot meningitis in toddlers

Meningitis is a term that is used to describe an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and as it is a deadly disease, meningitis is a fear of every parent.

An early diagnosis and treatment of meningitis is vital and it is therefore extremely important to know what symptoms to look out for. Here is a guide on how to spot meningitis in toddlers.

 How to spot meningitis

It is important to remember that the symptoms of meningitis are sometimes difficult to recognise at first and that not every child will get all of the following symptoms, and that the symptoms to not necessarily have to occur in any particular order.

Meningitis can cause symptoms that are similar to the flu, including a headache, fever, vomiting and feeling generally unwell.

Limb, joint and muscle pain can also be a sign of meningitis in children, which is often accompanied with diarrhoea.

If you trying to determine whether your child has meningitis then feel their hands and feet, as cold hands and feet, as well as shivering can also be a sign of meningitis. Alongside the cold hands and feet, a child with meningitis can have pale and mottled skin.

A child infected with meningitis often breaks out in a rash over the whole of their body.

Although a stiff neck is a less common symptom of meningitis in young children it is common within older children infected with the disease.

As well as being extremely sleepy, confused, delirious, vacant and difficult to wake up, children who have meningitis often show a dislike to bright light.

In some cases children who have meningitis may have seizures.

Other symptoms can include refusing to feed or eat, a stiff body that is unable to stand up with support and that is making jerky movements, and irritability and not wanting to be touched or held.

In babies a sign of meningitis can be moaning and high pitch cry, as well as a bulging soft spot – fontanel – on their head.

Many parents have often heard about the ‘tumbler test’, which should be performed if you suspect your child has meningitis. Place a glass tumbler on your child’s skin and firmly press against the rash.

If the marks do not fade and you can see the rash through the glass seek medical assistance straight away. It is advisable to seek medical attention if you are at all worried that your child may have meningitis.