Meningitis is an infection of the covering of the brain (also called the meninges), which is most commonly the result of either a bacterial or viral infection. Viral meningitis frequently is not diagnosed because its symptoms are similar to the common flu. Meningitis can be a potentially life-threatening condition, which can result in learning disabilities, deafness, blindness, paralysis, epilepsy, seizures, permanent brain damage, and death. Meningitis can occur in children and/or any age group. However, children 2 and younger have the highest incidence of meningitis with the greatest risk immediately following birth and at 3-8 months of age. Medical malpractice actions commonly result from a failure to diagnose or properly treat meningitis.
Some of the common symptoms of meningitis can include:
- Stiff neck;
- Photophobia (sensitivity to bright light);
- Nausea and Vomiting;
- Confusion and decreased level of consciousness;
- Rash; and
In babies, especially less than three months the symptoms are less clear. Often times, the baby will be irritable, restless, not be eating as well, have diarrhea, be sleeping more, and may have a bulging fontanelle-the soft spot on the top of the head. These symptoms can occur with or even without fever.
In all case, Meningitis needs prompt diagnosis and treatment.