What is meningitis?
Meningitis is a disease that affects the lining that protects and surrounds the brain and spinal chord(meninges). This lining acts as an extra protection against infection.
Basically there are two main types of meningitis:
- non-fatal viral
- bacterial (the more serious type), which can develop into meningoccal septicaemia, which is very dangerous
What are the symptoms?
Meningitis symptoms are similar to flu:
- high temperature
- severe headache
- stiff neck
- dislike of bright light
- lack of energy
- painful joints
- a rash, if it doesn't fade when a glass is pressed against it, it may well be meningitis.
It is spread like any virus, e.g. sneezing, coughing, and can happen quite suddenly. It’s not as common as most viruses like cold and flu. Less than 200 people in Scotland get meningitis (all types) every year, and that’s out of around 5 million of us living here!
How do you treat meningitis?
If you catch it early enough, it can be treated with antibiotics or a vaccine, depending on the type you contract. More serious cases will mean that you have to go to hospital. It’s not always clear what type of meningitis a person has so if there is any doubt, go to hospital as soon as possible. Even if you are not sure that you have meningitis it's best to go to hopsital just in case.
Can you prevent meningitis?
Babies are now immunised against Meningitis C (one of the more serious types) but if you didn’t get this it is available to all young people under the age of 25. Your GP will give you more information on the immunisation scheme.
More information and help
If you are worried about meningitis contact your GP or call the Meningitis Trust's 24 hour nurse-led Helpline 0800 028 18 28 for emergency advice.
“NHS Health Scotland has published ‘A guide to teenage immunisations between 12 and 18 years of age’ booklet. It provides young people with information on the immunisations that are given between 12 and 18 years of age, including on information on meningitis.”