MeningitisSymptoms

Symptoms of meningitis can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. In the early stages, there may not be a rash or the rash may fade on pressure.

Symptoms of meningitis can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. In the early stages, there may not be a rash or the rash may fade on pressure.

You should get medical help immediately if you're concerned about yourself or your child.

Trust your instincts and do not wait until a rash develops.

Symptoms of meningitis, septicaemia and meningococcal disease include:

  • a high temperature
  • cold hands and feet
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • breathing quickly
  • muscle and joint pain
  • pale, mottled or blotchy skin
  • spots or a rash
  • headache
  • a stiff neck
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • being very sleepy or difficult to wake
  • fits (seizures)

Babies may also:

  • refuse feeds
  • be irritable
  • have a high-pitched cry
  • have a stiff body or be floppy or unresponsive
  • have a bulging soft spot on the top of their head

Someone with meningitis, septicaemia or meningococcal disease can get a lot worse very quickly.

Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E if you think you or your child might be seriously ill.

Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious.

Meningitis rash

If a rash does not fade under a glass, it can be a sign of sepsis (sometimes called septicaemia or blood poisoning) caused by meningitis and you should call 999 straight away.

Page last reviewed: 08/03/2019
Next review due: 08/03/2022