What are the symptoms of bacterial meningitis?

Inflammation accounts for some of the key symptoms of bacterial meningitis, such as headache, sensitivity to light, and neck stiffness.

Common symptoms of bacterial meningitis

Common symptoms of bacterial meningitis include:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Fever
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Irritability in children
  • Loss of appetite or poor feeding in children and infants
  • Malaise or lethargy
  • Neck stiffness
  • Rash
  • Seizure

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, acute meningitis can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
  • Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions
  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Seizure
  • Severe dizziness or sudden loss of balance
  • Severe headache
  • Unusual irritability or poor feeding in children and infants
  • Unusual neck stiffness or pain

What is bacterial meningitis?

Bacterial meningitis is an infection, caused by bacteria, of the sac surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Typical symptoms include headache, sensitivity to light, and neck stiffness. Fever is often present.

... Read more about bacterial meningitisintroduction


What causes bacterial meningitis?

The most common causes of bacterial meningitis include Haemophilus influenzae type b (also known as Hib), Neisseria meningitidis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, although Haemophilus influenzae type b is not as common as it once was due to vaccination practices. Other bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis include Escherichia coli, group B streptococci, Listeria monocytogenes... Read more about bacterial meningitiscauses


How is bacterial meningitis treated?

The best treatment for acute meningitis is avoiding it in the first place. Effective vaccines have been developed against the three most common causes of bacterial meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningitidis, and Streptococcus pneumonia.

Treatment for bacterial meningitis

Treatment of bacterial meningitis requires timely treatment with antibio... Read more about bacterial meningitistreatments

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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