The idea that underlies immunizations is simple:
Introduce a small part ("antigen") or a weakened live version of an infectious germ (like a bacterium or virus) into the body by injecting, swallowing, or inhaling it.
This induces the body to make antibodies and other immunological defenses to fight off that perceived threat.
Then, when exposed to the real infectious agent later on, the body has the pre-existing immunity to quickly recognize the germ and muster up the defenses to prevent...
If your child is too young to talk, you may have a hard time detecting some of these symptoms. So in infants and young children, the only evident meningitis symptoms might be:
Pale or blotchy skin
Crying when held
The speed with which meningitis symptoms develop varies. Bacterial meningitis symptoms come on quickly, usually over a period of hours. With viral meningitis, symptoms might develop over several days.
When to See a Doctor
Of course, what's disturbing about the above list of meningitis symptoms, especially for a parent, is that most are incredibly common.
So here's one important thing to keep in mind. Beyond any of the specific meningitis symptoms, children or adults with bacterial meningitis -- the most serious type -- usually become very ill very quickly.
Even though the odds of getting meningitis are very small, you should still err on the side of caution. If you or a family member have been exposed to meningitis or have worrisome meningitis symptoms, give your health care provider a call. If the meningitis symptoms seem severe, go to the emergency room right away. Getting prompt treatment for meningitis can make all the difference.