Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Meningitis Symptoms Warning Signs

It's not easy to spot the symptoms of meningitis. People often confuse the early signs and symptoms of meningitis with the flu. In fact, meningitis may come on the heels of a flu-like illness or infection. That's why it's important to stay alert, learn the hallmark signs and symptoms of meningitis, and act quickly. It may help save a life.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis symptoms may develop within hours or days. Viral meningitis symptoms may also develop quickly or over several days.

Here are more common signs and symptoms of both types. Not all symptoms may appear or appear in the same order. Fever, headache, and neck stiffness are the hallmark symptoms of meningitis.

  • Fever
  • Severe, persistent headache
  • Neck stiffness and pain that makes it difficult to touch your chin to your chest
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion and disorientation (acting "goofy")
  • Drowsiness or sluggishness
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Poor appetite
  • More severe symptoms include seizure and coma

In infants, symptoms may include fever, irritability, poor feeding, and lethargy.

Other Potential Signs and Symptoms of Meningococcal Disease

These are additional signs and symptoms of meningococcal infection that has entered the bloodstream:

 

When to Seek Medical Care for Possible Symptoms of Meningitis

If you suspect that your child or someone you know has meningitis, seek medical care right away.

  • Call the doctor and describe the signs and symptoms.
  • Go immediately to the nearest emergency room if a doctor is not reachable right away. The person who is sick should not drive. Call 911 if transportation is not available.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on June 07, 2015

Today on WebMD

Baby getting vaccinated
Is there a link? Get the facts.
syringes and graph illustration
Get a customized vaccine schedule.
 
baby getting a vaccine
Know the benefits and the risk
nurse holding syringe in front of girl
Should your child have it?
 

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
Article
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Slideshow
 
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Article
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids
Video
 

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
Video
gloved hand holding syringe
Article
 
infant receiving injection
Tool
pills
Quiz
 

WebMD Special Sections