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    Meningitis Can Kill In 24 Hours! Doctors Share 10 Warning Signs Every Parent MUST Know
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    Parenting Health & Safety
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    warning signs of meningitis in babies
    24 April 2017

    Meningitis Can Kill In 24 Hours! Doctors Share 10 Warning Signs Every Parent MUST Know

    7 mins read
    Health & Safety
    for New Born, Baby, Toddlers, Pre-schoolers
    770.6K engaged
    Every other baby or young child will suffer from the flu and a skin rash sometime in his childhood. However, it is possible that what you thought was only a skin rash or the seasonal flu could actually be life-threatening! Meningitis, if not diagnosed and treated in time, can cause death in infants and young children. Understand how we must stay alert to protect our children from this dangerous disease.


    In this article

    Bacterial V/S Viral Meningitis
    Risk Factors For Meningitis
    Warning Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis in Children
    How To Protect Your Child From Meningitis
    What To Do If Your Child Shows Meningitis Symptoms

    Meningitis is usually the result of a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. The disease-causing microbe enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain and spinal cord, seriously infecting it and leading to inflammation of the membranes. The bacteria called Neisseria Meningitidis (meningococcus) is one of the most common causes of this disease in infants as well as adults. The viral form of the disease, or viral meningitis, doesn't lead to septicaemia (blood poisoning) unlike its bacterial counterpart. 

    Bacterial V/S Viral Meningitis

     Bacterial Meningitis  Viral Meningitis
    The recovery time for bacterial meningitis is longer and it has higher fatality rates Viral meningitis is less severe and clears up within a week in most cases
    Most forms of bacterial meningitis are vaccine preventable Most forms of viral meningitis aren't vaccine preventable
    Signs of bacterial meningitis are quick to manifest and become rapidly worse. Signs of viral meningitis can develop rapidly or over a  period of time

    The first 24 hours are the most critical for a child diagnosed with meningitis. The disease is so deadly that it can lead to death in 24 hours! As per statistics, 1 out of 10 persons who get meningitis does not survive. In fact, as per meningitis data by Sanofi Pasteur, Meningococcal Meningitis has taken than 1300 lives in India from 2011-2015!


    Risk Factors For Meningitis

    This is one of those life-threatening diseases that can infect your child out of the blue, sometimes for no apparent reason. However, your child may be susceptible to meningitis in the following cases:
    • He/she has skipped vaccinations! The risk is much higher for anyone who hasn't completed the recommended childhood vaccination schedule
    • He/she recently had an ear or sinus infection
    • He/she faced an accident leading to a skull fracture
    • He/she has a compromised immune system
    • He/she lives or is exposed in an area with high-density, crowded populations (e.g. Hajj pilgrims, dormitory students, military recruits)

    Warning Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis in Children

    It can be difficult to distinguish the symptoms of meningitis from something like flu, especially as meningitis may occur soon after the child has faced a flu-like infection. However, if the signs are not spotted in time, meningitis can escalate very quickly, even within a couple of hours. In severe cases, meningitis has even been known to cause death within 24 hours.
    In light of the recent increase in the number of meningitis cases, doctors across the world have issued a warning to all parents. Please make a note of and share the following warning signs of bacterial meningitis with all your fellow parents. It can help save a child’s life.
    1. Fever and Headache

      Meningitis often leads to a high fever in young children, accompanied by a headache. This is usually a high temperature and not soothed by home remedies or fever medicines. Your baby may also look pale and his skin may feel blotchy when you touch him to check the temperature.
    2. Neck Stiffness and Pain

      This is the most hallmark sign of meningitis. The stiffness can be so severe that your child may find it difficult to touch his/her chin to the chest. The child may also experience muscle ache or joint pain along with this.
    3. Skin Rash

      Many of us think that the red/purple rash is the main sign of meningitis. It is definitely one of the most talked about signs; however, it may NOT always be there. In fact, waiting for the rash to appear and neglecting other symptoms can prove to be fatal!

      When it does appear, the rash looks red or purple, and grows from small spots at first to looking like bruises. It may appear anywhere on the body, including palms or soles. Please note that unlike many rashes, these rashes do not fade when pressed. You can try a simple glass test to understand if the rash is a symptom of meningitis.

      Glass test Meningitis

      Source: Daily Mail

    4. A Bulge in the Baby’s Fontanel (the soft spot on top of a baby's head)

      When a baby is born, they usually have several fontanels or soft spots where their skull-bones haven’t fused yet. Your baby may have these on the top, back, and sides of their head. If you spot a sudden change in these soft spots, or notice that one of them is bulging, please see this as an immediate warning sign.
    5. Behaving in a Confused and Disoriented Manner

      This is a big warning sign that indicates the brain is getting affected! Meningitis can lead to goofy behaviour in children, wherein they seem to be confused or lost about things.

    6. Signs of Meningitis:

      • Fever and Headache
      • Neck Stiffness and Pain
      • Skin Rash (Doesn't fade when pressed under a glass)
      • A Bulge in the Baby's Fontanel
      • Behaving in a Confused and Disoriented Manner
      • Drowsiness
      • Sensitivity to Bright Light
      • Nausea, Vomiting and Appetite Problems
      • Cold Hands and Feet
      • Rapid Breathing

    7. Drowsiness

      If your child is feeling sleepier than usual and seems to be unnaturally drowsy, it should ring a warning bell. A feeling of sluggishness is one of the earlier symptoms of meningitis!
    8. Sensitivity to Bright Light

      If your child shows a sudden dislike of bright lights, it can be a sign of meningitis. It has been observed that many children infected with meningitis shut their eyes and turn away from bright light.
    9. Nausea, Vomiting and Appetite Problems

      While appetite and digestion problems are not uncommon in babies, a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting or reduction in appetite can be dangerous. Babies may refuse to accept feeds or vomit soon after. He/she may also face abdominal pain.
    10. Cold Hands and Feet

      This is a very common sign of meningitis wherein the child’s hands and feet feel cold – almost ice-cold – even if he/she has a high temperature. In fact, the child may also shiver as a result.
    11. Rapid Breathing

      If your child’s breathing seems unusual and unlike his regular breathing, please see this as a warning sign. Meningitis can lead to fast, grunting-like breath, or difficulties while inhaling/exhaling.


    How To Protect Your Child From Meningitis

    The best and most reassuring news for us as parents is that meningitis can be prevented through vaccination! The most effective way to protect your children from this dangerous infection is to get them vaccinated against meningitis. The good news is that the vaccine called Bexsero was found to be effective against 91% of strains causing the disease in children and young adults as per a recent research by CDC at its US centres. Please consult your paediatrician to discuss this further and explore your options. If your child has already received this vaccination, discuss with the doctor if and when he may require booster shots to continue being immune.

    Remember that the bacteria causing meningitis can spread easily through certain types of contact like kissing and sharing drinks. With an immune system that is still not completely developed, your child can easily develop meningitis if he catches the bacteria. A vaccine can prevent this from happening. Watch the video below to better understand how to Stop the Spread:

    What To Do If Your Child Shows Meningitis Symptoms

    Meningitis can be extremely dangerous and even fatal if the child does not get immediate medical attention. The longer your child goes without treatment, the greater his risk of permanent brain damage, including memory problems, learning disabilities, seizures, kidney failure and even death!

    If you spot any of the above symptoms in your child, IMMEDIATELY call the ambulance so your child gets medical treatment at the hospital. With timely attention, even severe meningitis can be fully cured.

    9 Important Vaccines That You Must Not Skip From Your Baby's Vaccination Schedule

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