Meningitis is a rare infection that affects the delicate membranes called meninges that cover the brain and spinal cord. There are several types of this infection including bacterial, viral and fungal. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening and spreads between people in close contact with each other. Doctor Ranj appeared on ITV This Morning and discussed the best ways to protect oneself from developing the infection and one particular symptom that should not be ignored.
It’s estimated that almost three million people could develop meningitis. The infection could lead to lasting damage and in some cases can cause death.
Doctor Raj said: “Technically meningitis is inflammation around the layers of membranes and is caused either by a virus or bacteria. It affects predominantly children or young adults such as those going into university.
“Sometimes it can get into the blood stream.
“Bacterial meningitis is more dangerous and can be fatal.
“The infection is passed on through close contact by coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing utensils.
“Lifestyle habits can put a person at higher risk of contracting the infection such as smoking or having poor hygiene.
‘The initial symptoms of meningitis can often be overlooked especially with university students who mistake it for either a flu or being hungover.
“The early symptoms of meningitis include having a fever, experiencing drowsiness and lethargy and having muscle weakness.
“If left untreated it could lead to complications such as damage to the nervous system, kidney problems, or organ damage.”
One of the major warning signs of meningitis is having a rash.
Doctor Ranj advises doing the glass test which involves pushing down on the rash with a glass and rolling over it, if the rash doesn’t fade then this is a warning sign and could mean going to A&E immediately.
“The biggest preventative measure for meningitis is vaccination which either your local GP or school can offer.
“A person should also look after their general health pay attention to hygiene and make sure you get vaccinated,” added Doctor Ranj.
Meningitis is almost always caused by a bacterial or viral infection that beings somewhere else in the body besides the brain, like the ears, sinuses, or throat.
Meningitis Research Foundation said: “Anyone, anywhere of any age can get meningitis although some people are at higher risk than others. There are many different causes of meningitis. Different germs such as bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause meningitis if they invade the body.
“Being able to recognise the symptoms of meningitis is vital because early recognition and treatment provide the best chance of a good recovery.”
The less common causes of meningitis include syphilis, tuberculosis, autoimmune disorders or cancer medications.
The NHS said: “You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you’re concerned that you or your child could have meningitis.
“Trust your instincts and do not wait until a rash develops.”