Meningitis In Kids
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes, or meninges, surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis sometimes starts off like the flu symptoms-wise, but is much more severe, and requires immediate medical attention. Meningitis most commonly is the result of a viral infection. Meningitis causes also include bacterial infections such as group B strep, E. coli, and Hib, and, less commonly, fungal and parasitic causes.
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The hallmark sign of meningitis is a stiff neck, accompanied by a severe headache and fever. Other signs of meningitis include nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation, a red and purple rash, and sensitivity to light. A child may be drowsy, have no desire to eat, and may complain of a stomach ache. Meningitis in infants may also result in a baby sleeping more than usual, having bulging soft spots, having jaundice, and crying more than usual, in addition to the symptoms mentioned above.
A spinal tap (lumbar puncture, in which fluid is taken from the spine) will be done to diagnosis meningitis, and a blood test will be done to determine the cause. If the cause is found to be bacterial, IV antibiotics are usually started immediately to kill off the infection. If the cause is viral, no treatment is usually necessary and the disease will take its course (unless it is caused by the herpes simplex virus, in which case antiviral medication will be given). Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medication.
If you think your child may have meningitis, call your child’s pediatrician to ask about symptoms. If they can’t be reached, bring your child to a pediatric urgent care or emergency room for testing. If you’re located near Los Angeles, California, MVP Pediatric and Urgent Care can see your child and send them in for further testing if necessary.