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Meningitis symptoms

Babies and toddlers

Children and teenagers


Glass test

A rash that does not fade under pressure is a sign of meningococcal septicaemia and is a medical emergency.

See how you do the glass test.

Emergency numbers

If you suspect meningitis or septicaemia, get medical help immediately. You can:

  • Call NHS Direct/NHS 24 or your GP.
  • Go to your nearest accident and emergency department.
  • Dial 999 for an ambulance.
  • Describe the symptoms carefully and say that you think it could be meningitis or septicaemia.
  • Early diagnosis can be difficult. If you have had advice and are still worried, get medical help again.
  • Trust your instincts.

If you are worried about the symptoms of meningitis and spotting them in time, let us help you with our free card. We also have an iPhone app and an Android app for you to download.

How to protect yourself and your loved ones against meningitis

Find out more about vaccines

It is important to remember you can't vaccinate against all types of meningitis, stay safe and carry one of our free symptoms cards at all times.

Remain vigilant to all the signs.

  • The early symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain. These can often look like other more common illnesses like flu.
  • Trust your instincts. You know your child, a loved one, or your own body, better than anyone else. If you think it is meningitis, say so.
  • Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly. Keep checking them.
  • Make sure your family and friends know the signs and symptoms too. 

We produce symptoms cards in credit-card size, so that it can be kept easily inside a purse or wallet. Our symptoms cards are free to anyone - please call our freephone helpline on 0808 80 10 388 to get yours.

Download symptoms app

Need more information on meningitis symptoms?

Knowing the signs and symptoms of meningitis, remaining vigilant and getting medical help quickly if concerned, can save lives. By learning the signs and symptoms of the disease now, you could be saving a life in the future. Visit our resources section for free meningitis downloads and literature.

symptoms card front image March 2014

Call one of our specially trained nurses on our freephone helpline, available 24-hours a day: 0808 80 10 388, or you can email us at [email protected] and we will come back to you as soon as we can.

Speak to our helpline

Download and print signs and symptoms


Meningitis Now is the new name for Meningitis UK and the Meningitis Trust. Our goals remain the same – saving lives and rebuilding futures.

Find out more

We are just a click away

Our helpline is available 24/7 to offer advice and answer your meningitis questions.

We are here if you need us

Trust your instincts

Are you worried that you or someone may have meningitis? 

Get urgent medical attention


You can now keep the Meningitis Now signs and symptoms card on your iPhone. Life-saving information at your fingertips

See the meningitis app

Meningitis publications

Meningitis leaflets, posters and downloads:

All publications


Teachers & pupils


Health Professionals

The Information Standard