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Meningitis - When To Call a Doctor

Call911or other emergency services right away if:

  • You or your child has symptoms of severe meningitis, such as fever, seizures, and confusion.
  • Your baby has signs of severe meningitis, such as trouble breathing or fever with a bulging soft spot on the head not caused by crying.

Call your doctor right away if:

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Understanding Meningitis -- Symptoms

While meningitis is rare, it's a serious and potentially life-threatening disease. So it's a good idea to know typical meningitis symptoms. The most common are:  Stiff neck, sometimes so stiff that it's difficult to touch the chin to the chest Headache, sometimes severe High fever Nausea or vomiting Confusion Discomfort from bright lights Sleepiness Seizures Rash Sometimes, these symptoms follow a flu-like illness, ear infection, or sinus infection. If your child...

Read the Understanding Meningitis -- Symptoms article > >

  • You or your child has symptoms of meningitis, such as severe and persistent headache, stiff neck, fever, rash, nausea, and vomiting.
  • You or your child has viral meningitis and does not get better with home treatment after 3 days.
  • You or your child is being treated for viral meningitis and develops signs of complications, such as a fever that lasts longer than 3 full days and does not go down during home treatment.
  • Your baby has a fever that comes and goes, diarrhea, vomiting, a swollen abdomen, and a shrill cry.

Call a doctor soon if you think you may have been exposed to meningitis. You can be treated with antibiotics, which may keep you from getting the illness.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your doctor observe your symptoms or condition without using medical treatment.

Watchful waiting isn't appropriate if you think that you or your child has meningitis, because you can't tell what type of meningitis it may be. Call your doctor as soon as symptoms appear.

Who to see

The following health professionals can diagnose and treat meningitis:

Specialists may be needed to treat meningitis, especially if complications develop:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: February 15, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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