Meningitis Home > Meningitis Symptoms

Symptoms of meningitis can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days. Common symptoms (in people over the age of two) include high fever, headache, and stiff neck. In some forms of the disease, symptoms may also include distinctive rashes. More severe meningitis symptoms include nausea, vomiting, confusion, and sleepiness. In newborns and small infants, the classic symptoms may be absent or difficult to detect.

Common Meningitis Symptoms

Common meningitis symptoms in anyone over the age of two years include:
These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days. Symptoms of meningitis may also include distinctive rashes in some forms of the disease. Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis may be associated with kidney and adrenal gland failure and shock.

Severe Symptoms of Meningitis

More severe symptoms may include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Discomfort looking into bright lights.
As meningitis progresses, patients of any age may have seizures.

Symptoms in Newborns and Infants

In newborns and infants, the classic meningitis symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to detect.
Instead, infants with meningitis may only appear slow or inactive, or be irritable, have vomiting, or be feeding poorly.

Medical Attention for Meningitis Symptoms

Any person who is showing symptoms of meningitis should seek immediate medical care by contacting their doctor or going to a clinic or emergency room.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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