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Meningitis signs and symptoms

Meningitis and septicaemia* can happen together. Be aware of all the signs and symptoms. Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get worse very quickly; keep checking them and get medical help if you are concerned. Symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear at all.

*Many medical experts now use the term sepsis instead of septicaemia

Signs and symptoms of meningitis link box - main

Early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia

Meningitis symptoms can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. Early symptoms of meningitis can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache¬†
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever with cold hands and feet

For more age specific symptoms please see our pages for babies and toddlers, children, Teenagers and young people and adults. 

Common signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia

  • Fever with cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsy or difficult to wake
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Pale blotchy skin, spots or rash (See Glass Test (link))
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike bright lights
  • Convulsions or seizures

Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly. Keep checking them.

DO NOT wait for a rash. If someone is ill and getting worse, trust your instincts - Get medical help immediately

Find out more about meningitis, as well as the symptoms in this short video:

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