Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result inpermanent damage to the brainor nerves.
A number of vaccinations are available that offersome protection against meningitis.
This page covers:
Symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:
These symptoms can appear in any order and some may not appear.
Bacterial meningitis is rarer but more serious than viral meningitis.
Infections that cause meningitis can be spread through:
Meningitis isusually caught from people who carry these viruses or bacteria in their nose or throat but aren't ill themselves.
It can also be caught from someone with meningitis, but this is less common.
Viral meningitis tends to get better on its own within 7 to 10 days and can often be treated at home. Gettingplenty of rest and taking painkillers and anti-sickness medication can help relieve the symptoms in the meantime.
These can include:
Overall, it's estimated that up to 1 in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is fatal.
Read about meningitis, an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Find out about the symptoms, vaccines and treatments.
Read about the main symptoms of meningitis, including the meningitis rash, and find out when and where to get medical advice if you have any concerns.
Read about the main causes of meningitis and how the infection is spread.
Read about how meningitis is treated, including what tests may be needed and whether treatment is hospital will be necessary.
Read about the main risks associated with meningitis, including hearing loss, loss of limbs, and problems with memory or concentration.
Read about the different vaccines that can help prevent meningitis and when they're usually given.
Read the story of Tracey Chambers, whose daughter Courtney was diagnosed with meningitis septicaemia.
Read the story of Mary Baron and her grandson Kyle, who developed bacterial meningitis during a holiday in Tenerife.