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Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is normally triggered by an infection and can affect people of all ages.
There are two types of meningitis:
- Viral meningitis: This is most common in young adults and does not require any treatment. Symptoms are similar to the flu with fever and aching muscles
- Bacterial Meningitis: Bacterial Meningitis is very dangerous and can be life-threatening. Symptoms can develop rapidly within hours and can include:
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Nausea and vomiting
- A red or purple rash that does not disappear when pressed i.e. by a glass. This rash can start as red or purple pin pricks on the skin
If you or any of your friends have any of these symptoms, you must get medical help immediately as hospital treatment may be needed straight away.
Bacterial Meningitis can cause complications including damage to hearing, damage to nerves, strokes, brain damage and death.
The most common type of bacterial meningitis is meningococcal meningitis, which is spread quickly through coughing, sneezing and kissing. It mainly affects young people.
The most common types of meningococcal meningitis are known as groups B and C.
There is no vaccine for group B yet, but immunisation against meningitis group C is free to all people under 25 years old. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, make an appointment with your GP as soon as you can.
Meningitis can kill so be aware of the symptoms and seek immediate medical help if any of the symptoms develop.