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Symptoms of Meningitis

Common symptoms of meningitis include headache, stiff neck, and high fever. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days. In newborns and infants, signs and symptoms of this disease include feeding poorly, vomiting, and irritability.

Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis: An Overview

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.
Meningococcal symptoms of meningitis may be associated with kidney and adrenal gland failure and shock.

Severe Meningitis Symptoms

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

Symptoms in Newborns and Infants

In newborns and small infants, the classic symptoms of meningitis (neck stiffness, fever, and headache) may be absent or difficult to detect.
Meningitis symptoms in newborns and infants include:
  • Appearing slow or inactive
  • Being irritable
  • Vomiting
  • Feeding poorly.

Symptoms of Meningitis: Summary

Not everyone with possible symptoms of meningitis actually has meningitis. There are a number of other medical conditions that share similar symptoms. However, because of the seriousness of meningitis, any person showing possible symptoms of this condition should seek immediate medical care by contacting their doctor or going to a clinic or emergency room.
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