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Behaviour changes

The scars from meningitis are not always visible. Whatever the outcome, meningitis can have a huge impact on many aspects of people’s lives.

Tyler G meningitis case study

The facts

  • Behavioural changes can occur after meningitis, especially in babies and young children
  • Fortunately, many of these problems are short-term and improve with time
  • However, long term problems, such as aggression and personality changes can be associated with acquired brain injury (ABI) - an injury to the brain after birth

Young children

  • Being in hospital is a scary experience for anyone, however children can find it particularly difficult to understand and process what has happened to them
  • Young children may experience behavioural changes in the early stages of recovery. This can include difficulty sleeping, nightmares, bed wetting, clinginess and temper tantrums.
  • These reactions are normal and usually resolve over time, without the need for extra support
  • Once a child is home, provide as much normality as possible. For example, keeping to normal mealtimes, play times, free time and bedtime
  • Continue to put boundaries in place. This will help a child to feel safe and secure.
  • Talking can help a child can help them to process what has happened. Use age-appropriate language and answer any questions honestly
  • Anyone who remains concerned about a child’s behaviour following meningitis, should contact their GP or paediatric team

Further information, about supporting a child or young person after hospital admission.


  • Everyone will respond to their illness differently
  • Adults may experience anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem and confidence
  • Some people may experience problems such as aggression, mood swings or personality changes
  • Many people feel isolated after an experience of meningitis
  • Talking to someone who understands can be a great help
  • Some people may need extra support to help them through the bad times

When behavioural changes following meningitis are long-term, expert help and support may be required.

The possibility of an acquired brain injury may need to be considered.

Many professionals including GPs, paediatricians, specialist teachers and psychologists can help to reduce problems and make life easier.

Patience and understanding from family, employers, schools and those working with those impacted by meningitis is vital.

Getting help

If you have been affected by meningitis, don’t suffer alone. We can help you.

Call our nurse-led helpline

Call our helpline 0808 80 10 388 or email helpline@meningitisnow.org