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Ruby and Tracy's story

8th June 2022

Tracy’s 16-year-old daughter Ruby became ill with meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in May this year, but thankfully seems to be making a good recovery

Ruby and Tracy's story

Tracy, a nurse from Burnley in Lancashire, shares some hints and tips on how to get your bowel health back following treatment for bacterial meningitis.

“My daughter has recently had bacterial meningitis, with symptoms including photophobia, headache, neck pain, leg pain, temperature, vomiting, difficulty breathing, increasing body weakness and a rash in the latter stages.

“Despite the A&E experience being shameful (I practically had to beg the staff to take her symptoms seriously) she appears to have made a good recovery.

Hints and tips on bowel health

“Since then, I have been reading quite a lot about associating depression and anxiety post meningitis.

“I have previously worked as a bladder and bowel paediatric nurse for several years and take a keen interest in reading and keeping up to date with regard to having good gut health. I would like to share some hints and tips on how to get your bowel health back following treatment for bacterial meningitis.

“You are probably aware that antibiotic treatment can strip your bowel/gut of 90-95% of your good gut bacteria and therefore it is safe to assume that if you have had IV antibiotics for five to seven days your good gut bacteria will be compromised. Along with this, you may have been prescribed pain killers that can also cause constipation.

Emerging evidence

“There is quite a lot of emerging evidence that if you try to improve your gut health (with a better gut bacteria and better gut micro biome) this not only improves you bowel habits but it may improve your mental health too, as good gut health has been linked to producing higher levels of serotonin (our feel good hormone).

“To improve my daughter’s gut health following antibiotic treatment I have introduced a probiotic tablet (there are a number on the market and some that are specifically for children, so please check before you purchase that they are age appropriate).

“I have also increased her consumption of live yogurt, such as kefir yogurts/kefir drinks/pro biotic drinks. Fermented foods are also good if tolerated (such as kimchi and sauerkraut). I have also increased her consumption of omega oils (again check with regard to the suitability if you are going to be giving them to a child). A diet rich in a variety of fruits/vegetables, nuts/seeds and fibres is also good regarding improving your gut health and try to limit processed foods and refined sugars.

“You may not be able to incorporate all these hints and tips but even if you manage to incorporate some of them it will be helpful.

Help with long-term recovery

“I know it may be hard for some families to follow this advice, especially since the cost of living has risen substantially, but I feel improving your gut health post meningitis, particularly after having IV antibiotics, may help with long-term recovery and may also help tackle some of the post anxiety and depression symptoms.

“I understand there are a lots of other associated issues as to why depression and anxiety can be problematic post meningitis. But if these hints and tips help just one sufferer, that’s good enough for me.”

Got a question about recovery from meningitis? Contact our nurse-led Helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or email helpline@meningitisnow.org