The Truth About Meningitis

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Here are answers to some key questions people have about meningitis. Can you catch it at any age? Yes, but your chances of getting it are higher when you're a baby or a young child, college-age, or over 65.

Does the disease always bring on a dark purple rash? No. Only certain meningitis infections lead to this dangerous sign of blood poisoning. Some common early symptoms to watch out for include a fever, bad headache, and a stiff neck.

Do you need antibiotics to treat meningitis? It depends. Antibiotics can save your life when bacteria cause the disease. But meningitis can also be caused by viruses and fungi, which won't be treated by antibiotics. So if you think you're having meningitis symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible to get the right treatment.

Can you lower your chances of catching it? Yes. Get all the meningitis vaccines your doctor recommends for you or your child. Kids can get their first dose starting at 11 years old.

You can do some other things to protect yourself, too. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Don't kiss or hug someone who seems sick. And don't share food or any personal items that touch someone's mouth, such as cups, utensils, lip balm, and towels.