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meningitis symptoms and diagnosis

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  • To know if rashes are caused by meningitis and not another condition, roll a glass or tumbler on your skin. If the marks don’t fade, these rashes are definitely caused by meningitis
  • If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned on yourself or on someone you know, do not hesitate and consult a physician immediately
  • Your physician may perform any of these tests to check if you have meningitis or not
 

Meningitis Symptoms to Watch Out For

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Identifying meningitis as quickly as possible could be vital when it comes to recovering from the disease. There are actually many symptoms attributed to meningitis, but arguably, rashes that appear on your body are the most common hallmark of this illness.1

Rashes that develop if you have meningitis appear as small pink, red or purple pinpricks at first,2 then eventually spread over the body, resembling large bruises. Once bleeding under the skin occurs, these rashes could turn dark red or deep purple.3

To learn if these rashes are caused by meningitis and not another condition, roll a glass or tumbler on your skin. If the marks don’t fade, these rashes are very likely caused by meningitis. Furthermore, these could even be a sign of septicemia or blood poisoning, which requires immediate treatment.4

These rashes can be difficult to see if you’re dark-skinned. Because of this, make sure to watch out for spots or marks in these areas:5

  • Palms of the hands
  • Soles of the feet
  • Stomach
  • Inside the eyelids
  • Roof of the mouth

Watch Out for Other Symptoms of Meningitis

An important note to remember: not everyone with meningitis will develop these rashes once they’re infected.6 Instead, they may experience other symptoms of this condition, such as:7

Fever with a temperature over 37.5 degrees Celsius or 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit

Feeling and being sick

Irritability and lack of energy

Headaches

Aching muscles and joints

Rapid breathing

Cold hands and feet

Pale, mottled skin

Stiff neck

Confusion

Dislike towards bright lights

Drowsiness

Fits or seizures



Tests That Could Help Diagnose Meningitis Cases

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned on yourself or on someone you know, do not hesitate to consult a physician immediately. This way, the cause of your sickness can be determined and a course of action to help you recover can be recommended. Your physician may perform any of these tests to check if you have meningitis or not:8,9

Physical examination: this is done to look for pronounced symptoms of meningitis.

Blood cultures: during this test, blood samples are placed in a special dish to see if microorganisms like bacteria grow. The samples can also be placed on a slide, stained with Gram’s strain and studied under a microscope to look for bacteria.

Lumbar puncture or spinal tap: this examination entails drawing out a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the spine. CSF samples from meningitis patients are said to often display low sugar/glucose levels and high amounts of white blood cells and proteins.

Your physician could call for a lumbar puncture to accurately determine the bacteria strain that caused the disease. However, if your physician thinks that you have viral meningitis, he or she can give you the go signal to undergo a polyamerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification. This DNA-based test searches for antibodies against viruses. This way, the exact cause and proper treatment for a case of viral meningitis can be determined.

Computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: these two types of imaging could check for swelling or inflammation in your head. Your physician may also recommend a CT scan or x-ray on your chest or sinuses because these may show infections in other areas that are also associated with meningitis.

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