Symptoms and characteristic manifestations of meningitis in children

In most cases, signs of meningitis in children manifest themselves almost identically in small patients and adults. An unfavorable prognosis appears when parents ignore the manifestations of the disease and therapy is not started on time. Judging by medical observations, the common clinical signs of meningitis in a child are as follows:

  • severe weakness, general malaise;
  • a significant increase in temperature;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • vomiting;
  • another sign of meningitis in children is intense pain in the head, joints, muscles;
  • fever, chills;
  • decreased appetite;
  • convulsions;
  • the appearance of a runny nose, redness of the throat;
  • rigidity (a sharp increase in muscle tone, their resistance to deformation);
  • a sick child almost always lies on its side, with legs crossed and its head thrown back.

There are still common specific factors that signal the presence of neuroinfection. Often, the doctor makes a final, accurate diagnosis. Here’s how children develop meningitis:

  1. Stiff neck. Constant tilting of the child’s head due to strong muscle tone.
  2. Symptom Kernig. With meningitis, the ability to straighten the lower limb in the knee joint disappears if it is bent in the hip. This symptom is caused by a significant tone of the posterior femoral muscles.
  3. Buccal syndrome. When the doctor presses on the cheeks of the patient, the sick child raises his shoulders upward, there is a flexion of the elbow joints.
  4. Contraction of facial muscles in the process of tapping the zygomatic arch (ankylosing spondylitis).
  5. Symptom Lessage is inherent in infants up to a year. It consists in the fact that the baby involuntarily bends the legs when it is lifted up and held by the armpits.
  6. Mondonesi’s syndrome is a very strong pain sensation that appears with slight pressure on the closed eyelids.
  7. Symptom of Brudzinsky. The upper type – if a small patient lies on his back, his legs will involuntarily bend at the knees when the doctor makes an attempt to tilt his head to the sternum. The average symptom is that the lower limbs of the child are bent when they press the pubic joint. When one leg bends at the knee joint and hip, and the second assumes an identical pose – this is the bottom symptom of Brudzinsky.
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In children up to a year

Standard common signs of meningitis in infants:

  • partial or complete refusal about food, liquids;
  • the appearance of rashes, yellowing of the skin;
  • severe vomiting (seizures will often recur);
  • hypoglycemia may begin (lowering blood sugar);
  • neck muscle tension;
  • lethargy (hypotension), weakness;
  • temperature increase;
  • the baby is irritated, naughty;
  • fontanel swelling also refers to signs of meningitis in children under one year old.

Rash with meningitis

Often, a child develops a rash with meningitis, which is caused by a microorganism such as meningococcus. When the infectious disease is mild, the rashes are like small dots of a dark red color. As a rule, after a few days this symptom disappears. The severe course of the disease causes a rash in the form of large spots, bruising. Localization of this sign of meningitis – arms, legs, trunk. Rashes are located asymmetrically.

Determining the onset of meningitis is quite difficult. Often the disease begins very non-specifically. The first days of the disease flow under the guise of a classic cold. The baby may just have a fever or impaired well-being. However, with infectious forms of the disease, development occurs rapidly. For several hours, the main symptoms are growing.

The most common inflammatory process in the meninges is manifested:

A sharp increase in body temperature. It grows rapidly in a few hours to 38-39,5 degrees. This symptom is persistent enough. Despite attempts to bring down the temperature with antipyretic drugs, it remains high for a long time.

Severe nausea. Against the background of severe headache, vomiting may even occur. These phenomena are not related to meals. Vomiting may even occur on an empty stomach. Conventional medications for nausea do not bring a pronounced result. Kids feel very bad, refuse to eat, become moody.

Severe headache. It has a bursting and spilled character. There is no characteristic epicenter of pain. The pain syndrome is aggravated by turning the head in different directions. In a horizontal position, the headache is somewhat reduced. In some cases, when looking at closely located objects, double vision may appear in the eyes or blurred vision.

Positive meningeal symptoms. As a rule, the doctor reveals these symptoms when examining a baby with suspected meningitis. The most common and reliable sign is the appearance and intensification of pain on the back of the neck while stretching the legs to the child’s stomach.

Characteristic forced posture. The child lies on the bed with his head slightly tilted back. A sick baby tries to choose a pose so that the head is slightly below body level. This is a classic specific sign of meningitis. This condition is caused by stiff neck muscles. This symptom is already quite unfavorable and indicates an increase in intracranial pressure.

Light-hostility and increased headache when exposed to loud annoying sounds. As a rule, bright light causes irritation of the retina and provokes an increase in pain. Being in a dark room brings relief to the baby. In the early days of the disease, talk with the child should be as quiet as possible, avoiding loud annoying sounds. The keen perception of various provoking external factors can lead to a deterioration of the baby’s condition.

Seizures and episindroma in severe cases of the disease. Even in babies who do not have epilepsy, this adverse symptom may appear.

Coma or confusion. It also occurs in severe cases of the disease. This condition requires immediate hospitalization and treatment in the intensive care unit.

With meningococcal infection, one of the characteristic specific signs will be the appearance of rashes on the skin. The rash quickly enough spreads throughout the body, including the legs and feet, as well as the buttocks. The greatest number of elements is found on the lateral surfaces of the body. The appearance of a rash is an unfavorable symptom and requires immediate hospitalization in the hospital for intensive treatment.

To a greater extent, the development of symptoms is affected by the individual characteristics of the child’s body and susceptibility to infections. The disease has the most unfavorable course for infants and premature babies. Children under 5 years old are at high risk for coma or even death.

Meningitis is a serious disease of the central nervous system, accompanied by inflammation of the meninges. Despite significant progress in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, the percentage of complications of the inflammatory processes of the central nervous system remains quite high. Early detection and timely provision of medical care is of particular relevance in young patients, since in childhood the clinical picture of the disease can be blurred. This makes diagnosis difficult and increases the risk of developing the neurological consequences of meningitis.

  • Children under 4 years of age are most susceptible to meningitis. The peak incidence occurs in 3-8 months of life. Even with medical care, mortality due to this disease can reach 5-30%.
  • More than 30% of children who have undergone meningitis subsequently suffer from neurological complications.
  • It is most severe and also has a greater risk of death and negative consequences of inflammation of the meninges caused by Streptococcus pneumonia.

The following types of meningitis are distinguished depending on the anatomy of the inflammatory process:

  • pachymeningitis – is an inflammation of the tissues of the dura mater;
  • leptomeningitis – characterized by damage to the subarachnoid space and choroid.

According to the pathogenesis of meningitis is classified into two types:

  • primary – develops against the background of general well-being in the absence of local foci of the inflammatory process and previous infectious diseases;
  • secondary – develops as complications of another pathological process in the body of the child.

Experts call the following etiological factors in the development of meningitis:

  • exposure to infectious pathogens, such as pneumococcus, meningococcus, staphylococcus, hemophilus bacillus, enteroviruses, mumps virus, candida fungi, treponema, toxoplasma, etc .;
  • oncological diseases;
  • pathological conditions of the immune system of the child’s body;
  • adverse reactions in response to the introduction of drugs;
  • history of traumatic brain injury;
  • conducting neurosurgical surgical interventions.

Due to the increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier and the immaturity of the immune response, the child’s body is easily exposed to infectious agents. Sick people, as well as animals, can act as sources of infection.

The causative agent can spread by airborne droplets, alimentary, contact-household and other ways. The infection enters the child’s body through the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and skin.

  • After the development of local inflammation, an infection with a blood stream or by contact, for example, with the destruction of the paranasal sinuses, penetrates the meninges. After this, the development of purulent, serous or serous-purulent inflammation occurs.
  • The accumulating exudate along with the toxins of microorganisms, antigens, and immune complexes stimulates the production of cerebrospinal fluid, which causes an increase in intracranial pressure. Squeezing tissue with impaired circulation of cerebrospinal fluid and blood causes the development of cerebral edema.

The classic triad of symptoms of meningitis, including headache, fever and meningeal symptoms, is not always found in children. The clinical picture of the disease largely depends on the age of the child. So in infants up to a year, the following symptoms most often appear:

  • vomiting;
  • decreased appetite;
  • increased irritability or drowsiness of the child;
  • characteristic “brain” cry of a child, characterized by monotony;
  • decrease or increase in body temperature;
  • the occurrence of seizures;
  • fontanel swelling and divergence of sutures of the skull.

Meningococcal meningitis

With the development of this type of meningeal pathology, the convex and basal surface of the brain changes.

The signs of meningitis in a child in this case are as follows:

  • A rapid increase in body temperature that does not go astray.
  • Repeated vomiting, which does not bring relief to a small patient.
  • Significant headaches arising from an increase in intracranial pressure, migraine.
  • The formation of a specific posture in a patient: tense occipital muscles, arched back, legs bent and brought to the stomach.
  • In the early stages of the development of pathology, the appearance of a rash is noted, which eliminates itself several hours after the appearance.
  • Hyperemia and simultaneous hyperplasia of the posterior pharyngeal wall.
  • For two to three days before the onset of signs of meningitis in children, symptoms of acute respiratory viral infections are observed.
  • In severe cases of the disease, muscle cramps, fainting conditions, and fainting are often noted.
  • With a prolonged course of the disease, short periods of improvement are observed, followed by an increase in temperature again.

Doctors can easily diagnose childhood meningococcal meningitis by this symptom, which is characteristic. This form of the disease is distinguished by its rather dangerous manifestation – bacterial shock, in which the development of the disease occurs rapidly, accompanied by an increase in body temperature, the formation of a rash. Patients experience increased heart rate, uneven breathing, muscle cramps, which ultimately leads to the child falling into a coma.

You can also distinguish the following specific symptoms of the disease, which allow you to quickly identify the form of pathology, since it becomes easier to recognize meningitis and prescribe adequate treatment:

  • Necrosis of the skin. Characteristic for a severe form of the disease. Due to meningococcal infectious lesions, thrombosis and inflammatory processes develop in the vessels, against the background of which ischemia and necrosis are often noted in the areas of compression.
  • Strabismus. With the development of the acute form of the disease, damage to the cranial nerves is often noted, as a result of which there is a negative effect on the abducent nerve, which already leads to paralysis of the zone of lateral rectus eye muscles.
  • Uveitis. Common symptoms of meningitis in a child with the development of meningococcal infection include conjunctivitis and uveitis. If conjunctivitis is treated quickly enough, then uveitis is usually classified as a significant complication of the disease, which can lead to the development of panophthalmitis and serious visual impairment. High-quality and timely antimicrobial treatment minimizes the negative manifestations of uveitis.

This category also includes hemophilic and pneumococcal meningitis, which is in third place in the number of cases detected in children.

The first symptoms of meningitis

To know how meningitis manifests itself in children, it is necessary to learn the main signs of the disease, which include:

  • fever and chills;
  • headache;
  • muscle pain in the neck;
  • drowsiness, unconsciousness;
  • vomiting;
  • photophobia;
  • stiff neck.

Signs of some forms of meningitis in children:

  • skin rash;
  • convulsions;
  • anxiety;
  • increased excitability;
  • mental disorders.

With the disease, meningitis in children, symptoms and signs are manifested rapidly, but often are similar to manifestations of other diseases. Meanwhile, the danger of meningitis requires immediate hospitalization, and the faster this happens, the more favorable the prognosis. The duration of the incubation period of the disease depends on many factors, including the state of the immune system, and can vary from 2 to 10 days. The onset of the disease is acute.

The main sign of meningitis is considered to be a headache, which begins from the first days of the disease and lasts almost until recovery. Often a headache is accompanied by “gushing” vomiting without nausea, which does not bring relief to the patient. The localization of pain is different – especially often in the forehead or in the back of the head, sometimes diffuse pain.

The first sign of meningitis in children in the vast majority of cases is high fever. With purulent meningitis, the temperature rises to critical values ​​- 40-41 ° C, with serous meningitis and some other types of the disease, the temperature is less pronounced, with syphilitic meningitis, the temperature is normal.

A characteristic rash with meningitis appears in about a quarter of cases and is almost always a sign of a meningococcal type of disease. With this type of disease, bacteria damage the walls of blood vessels, and after 14-20 hours after the onset of the disease, a hemorrhagic rash (hemorrhage) appears. A rash with meningitis in children – photos and characteristic signs:

  • red or red-violet color;
  • irregular “star” shape, tendency to merge spots;
  • when you press on the skin with the wall of the glass, the rash does not fade and it can be seen by birch glass (this is one of the diagnostic methods);
  • localization – on the limbs and on the sides, the appearance of a rash on the face is a very bad symptom.

Accurately answer the question of how to recognize meningitis in a child will help the symptoms characteristic only for this disease. Meningeal syndrome includes the following symptoms:

  1. Stiff neck muscles. When checking the syndrome, the doctor asks to put the child on his back, with one hand slightly presses his chest, and the other bends his head to his chest. Due to muscle stiffness, this movement is painful for the child.
  2. Reflex muscle tension. This syndrome can be observed in a sleeping child who takes the uncharacteristic pose of a cocked cock – the body is arched, the head is thrown back, hands are pressed to the chest, legs are to the stomach.
  3. Symptom of Brudzinsky. It is checked in the supine position – if the child lifts his head, his legs in the hip and knee joints will bend reflexively. With passive bending of one leg in the hip and knee joints, the other will bend reflexively.
  4. Symptom of Kerning. It is checked lying on the back – if the child bends the leg of the hip and knee joints, and then try to straighten in the knee joint – this action will not work.
  5. Symptom Lesage. If the child is raised, holding his armpits, his legs will be pulled to the stomach.
  6. Symptom of Flautau. With a sharp raising of the child’s head forward from a prone position, the pupil will expand. In this way, signs of meningitis in children are tested mainly in infants.

Typical for meningitis are:

  • convulsions – epileptic type or in the form of a small tremor;
  • drowsiness (observed in 70% of cases) – begins due to inhibition of brain functions, in addition – inhibition of vital centers occurs and the patient develops shortness of breath, lowering blood pressure;
  • excitement – can be observed at the beginning of the disease, but more often – begins on day 4-5, accompanied by disorientation;
  • delirium, hallucinations, fears – the symptoms of psychosis differ with different types of infection, often intensify with an increase in temperature.

It is almost impossible to diagnose meningitis in children under one year of age with the symptoms of Brudzinsky, Kerning, and Lesage, since they have an increased overall muscle tone, so doctors who suspect meningitis in children under one year of age test them for a Flatau symptom. In addition, doctors examine the large fontanel of newborns – with meningitis, he is very tense, swells.

  • cry;
  • tremble
  • Too much sleep
  • his skin turns pale;
  • a venous mesh clearly appears on the head.

If the study revealed signs of meningitis in children, the patient is prescribed urgent treatment in a hospital setting. Since self-treatment of meningitis in children can lead to serious health consequences, a qualified doctor should prescribe drugs. The treatment of meningitis includes treatment aimed at:

  • destruction of a bacterial, viral or other infection;
  • elimination of cerebral edema and increased intracranial pressure;
  • elimination of certain pathological symptoms – restoration of fluid level, lowering temperature, relieving pain and cramps, eliminating oxygen starvation.

Preventive measures against meningitis are divided into two groups – specific and non-specific. The first category includes vaccination:

  1. Meningococcal vaccine – a vaccine against meningitis for children 10-12 years old provides protection against a number of pathogenic microorganisms, it is additionally recommended for people who visit other countries, students, recruits.
  2. Hemophilus influenzae vaccine B – is given to children aged 2-5 months.
  3. Pneumococcal vaccine – there are two types: for children under 2 years of age and for the elderly.
  4. Vaccines for measles, mumps, chickenpox, measles rubella – are made in order to minimize the risk of meningitis against the background of these diseases.

Non-specific prophylaxis of meningitis includes:

  • strengthening immunity;
  • compliance with hygiene rules;
  • normalization of nutrition;
  • minimizing the possibility of infection in crowded places;
  • protection against insects that can carry the infection;
  • swimming only in proven ponds;
  • timely vaccination when leaving for rest;
  • timely and complete cure for colds and viral diseases.

Diagnosis of meningitis involves blood tests, spinal puncture, the behavior of MRI and CT of the brain, the passage of various medical tests, bacteriological examination of mucus.

Differential diagnostics are often performed (in each case, an individual examination algorithm is selected). This allows doctors to check the general condition of the child, find out the type of disease, give parents the necessary explanations, and develop therapeutic tactics.

Treatment of meningitis with alternative methods, regardless of its form, age of the child and other factors, is prohibited. Alternative treatment should only supplement the basic drug therapy and only with the appropriate permission of the doctor. Cure meningitis with herbs, fees and other folk remedies will not work.

If a child develops a bacterial form of meningitis, then the baby will be hospitalized. Doctors in this case give recommendations for the integrated use of serious antibacterial drugs (administered intravenously). In some situations, corticosteroids can be used, the use of which will eliminate the inflammatory process. If there are convulsions, then tranquilizers are used to stop them.

If a child develops a viral form of meningitis, then antibacterial drugs are not used. In such cases, the disease usually proceeds in a moderate form, so treatment involves taking measures to identify, reduce and eliminate existing symptoms.

Prevention of the disease in some of its forms is quite possible – for this, children are vaccinated for a period of 3 to 4 years, but it is not possible to provide complete protection against this pathology.

Children with various forms of meningitis should be hospitalized in a hospital. Delay in the provision of treatment can lead to irreparable consequences and even death. Meningitis is a truly serious and dangerous disease in pediatric emergency practice.

While in the hospital, a sick child undergoes a fairly large complex of therapeutic procedures. So, diuretic drugs are used to reduce headaches and severe nausea. They also help prevent cerebral edema and impaired consciousness.

Such drugs can fight life-threatening arrhythmias. When heart failure occurs, cardiac glycosides are required.

A sufficiently large course of treatment is given to a child with meningitis during the entire stay in the hospital. All drugs are administered intravenously, many even by drip. This allows you to achieve rapid absorption of substances into the bloodstream and accelerate recovery.

If meningitis is of an infectious nature, then in such cases resort to antibiotic courses. The choice of the drug is carried out taking into account the characteristics of the pathogen to certain antibacterial drugs. Often used drugs with a wide spectrum of action, which are administered parenterally.

In order to avoid complications, treatment should be carried out in a hospital. The presence of a resuscitation unit is a prerequisite for all necessary therapy.

Rash with meningitis

Purulent meningitis

The first signs of meningitis of a secondary (purulent) form are:

  • Rapid deterioration of the child’s condition (fever, chills).
  • Repeated vomiting without relief.
  • Symptoms of Kernig (the child cannot straighten a leg bent at the knee or hip joint) and Brudzinsky (the child bends his knees if he tries to tilt his head while lying down). Limbs may hurt.
  • The development of tachycardia and bradycardia.
  • There is a possibility of herpetic manifestations, hemorrhagic rash.

It is customary to distinguish three main forms of purulent meningitis: fulminant, acute, chronic. Purulent purulent meningitis usually develops only in newborn babies and infants. The main symptomatology in this case is that the baby screams violently and for a long time, he has chills, fever. The child can “shake.”

Serous meningitis

The first symptoms of serous meningitis are: febrile conditions, typical meningeal symptoms, generalized lesions of internal organs. Pathology most often occurs in children aged 1,5 to 6 years (in infants, infants, in adolescence, rarely in adults).

The main characteristic features of this type of meningeal disease include:

  • Sensation of weakness, state of weakness.
  • Stool problems, constipation.
  • Increase in body temperature to high values.
  • Catarrhal inflammatory processes in the upper respiratory tract.
  • Shell syndrome with severe headaches, nausea and vomiting.
  • Stagnation in the fundus can also occur, so children can begin to rub their eyes due to discomfort.

Pathology in a child can be diagnosed independently at home by the characteristic clinical symptoms, but a symptom should be checked by a doctor. Given the first signs of a child’s meningitis infection, doctors often make the diagnosis without additional examinations, which allows you to start treating the disease in a timely manner. The disease is treatable, but only if operative diagnosis is taken into account. In severe cases, emergency care is required.


Comprehensive diagnosis of meningitis includes a survey, laboratory and instrumental studies, a neurological examination. During the survey, the doctor finds out the existing or recently transferred diseases, separately specifying the presence of such diagnoses as tuberculosis, rheumatism, syphilis. It is important to notify the doctor if the child has recently had the flu, otitis media, sinusitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, pharyngitis, underwent surgery, was injured, traveled to another country, received treatment with antibiotics or antiviral drugs.

A neurological examination reveals the characteristic signs of meningitis in children. First, the doctor checks the symptoms of Brudzinsky, Kerning, Lesage, Flatau, looks for muscle stiffness. In addition, soreness and sensitivity are investigated – with meningitis, they are increased. Be sure the doctor also conducts a study of cranial nerves, which are damaged during meningitis.

An instrumental study to detect signs of meningitis in children includes an electroencephalogram and computed tomography. Laboratory studies include general and biochemical blood tests, PCR or latex test, cerebrospinal puncture, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis. Types of meningitis by the pathological morphology of cerebrospinal fluid:

  • serous meningitis in children – the number of lymphocytes in the cerebrospinal fluid is increased, the lining of the brain is swollen;
  • purulent meningitis in children – the cerebrospinal fluid has a high content of neutrophils, a high content of proteins, and the membranes of the brain are purulent, condensed.

Before prescribing treatment, a specialist conducts diagnostic measures. Examination of the child is carried out using different methods. The main methods for diagnosing meningitis:

  1. First, the infectious disease doctor (or neuropathologist) conducts a conversation with the patient’s parents. Finds out how long they noticed the symptoms of the disease, how pronounced they are. This is followed by a thorough examination of a sick child to identify and confirm symptoms.
  2. Puncture from the lower back (intake of cerebrospinal fluid). Lumbar puncture helps to check the exact diagnosis and establish the type of meningitis.
  3. Cytological study of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid from the ventricles of the brain). Inflammation of the meninges is established if, during puncture, the cerebrospinal fluid flows in jets or an increase in the level of lymphocytes is recorded in it.
  4. X-rays and computed tomography of the skull are used to determine the causative agent of the infection and the nature of the inflammation.
  5. Immunological analysis – the detection of antibodies, viral antigens. There are two types of studies: polymer chain reaction (PCR) and ELISA.
  6. Analysis for the detection of diplococci and cocci in the body. To do this, make a fence of mucus from the nasopharynx, scrapings of the skin and blood smears.

In order to correctly diagnose meningitis, it is not always enough to conduct only a medical examination. Doctors, in order to prescribe effective treatment, resort to additional laboratory tests and tests. These methods not only clarify which microbe caused inflammation, but also determine its sensitivity to various antibiotics.

One of the simplest and most affordable diagnostic methods is a general blood test. This laboratory test allows you to establish the viral or bacterial nature of the disease. The leukocyte formula helps the doctor to navigate the stage of the inflammatory process in the body. A blood test can also tell at what stage the disease is proceeding and whether the first signs of complications have already appeared.

For babies with meningitis in a hospital, additional heart examinations are also performed.

Electrocardiography is one of the important methods for diagnosing cardiac complications. Often with infectious meningitis, dangerous arrhythmias or cardiac dysfunctions can occur. The ECG allows doctors to navigate in time and cope with this condition.

To exclude kidney complications, babies are tested for urine. In some cases, the pathogen can also be found in it. This simple and affordable test will allow doctors to dynamically monitor the condition of the baby’s kidneys during infection.

Serological tests to determine antibodies to various infections are performed in complex cases. Their most effective for the differential diagnosis of infectious diseases. With the help of such a study, toxoplasmosis or amoebiasis can be detected. For such an analysis, venous blood is taken. The result is ready, as a rule, in 1-2 days.

Tuberculous meningitis

This type of meningitis is usually determined in young children and infants, when pathology is rare in adults. The manifested symptoms will depend on the stage of development of the disease:

  1. Prodromal stage. The development of the disease occurs gradually. Patients noted pain in the head, nausea, dizziness. Fever may occur. Already at this stage, parents and doctors should have suspicions of tuberculous meningitis, which many children suffer very hard.
  2. The stage of irritation is distinguished by a rapid intensification of the previously manifested symptoms, an increase in body temperature. Pronounced pain may occur in the frontal and occipital lobes of the head. As the pathology develops, the child’s drowsiness increases, he becomes lethargic, his consciousness is gradually inhibited, constipation occurs without bloating. Patients usually respond poorly to loud sounds and bright lights.
  3. The third stage is thermal, which can be characterized by the appearance of paralysis and paresis. Symptoms of the thermal stage usually appear at 3-4 weeks of development of the pathology. Symptoms are similar to the development of encephalopathy: fever, tachycardia, girdle radicular pain, pressure sores.

Viral meningitis

Doctors recognize viral meningitis by its characteristic symptoms: fever, general intoxication of the body. In the early days of the development of pathology in young patients, pronounced manifestations of meningeal syndrome are noted: headaches, vomiting, increased drowsiness, weakness, or high irritability.

In this case, there is a likelihood of manifestation of the usual symptoms of a cold: sore throat, cough, runny nose. The disease is detected during examination, when doctors find signs that characterize meningitis in general: tension in the occipital lobe of the head, Brudzinsky and Kernig syndromes.

Causes and triggers

There may be several causes of inflammation. A provoking factor causes damage to the soft membranes of the spinal cord and brain. This leads to the development of meningitis. To date, there are more than a hundred different possible causes of the disease.

The most common causes of the inflammatory process in the meninges are:

Viruses of various types. Rubella, measles and influenza infection in case of complications can cause the disease. The causative agent of smallpox is also noted in a number of others. Viruses are quite small in size. This allows them to easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier, reaching the meninges.

Pathogenic bacterial microorganisms. Most often, meningitis occurs as a result of staphylococcal or streptococcal infection. Meningococci of types A, B and C can also cause this dangerous disease. Pseudomonas aeruginosa provokes inflammation in the pia mater in 25% of children. Meningitis caused by bacterial flora is relatively difficult and requires mandatory monitoring by medical professionals.

Various fungi. The most common culprit of the disease is candida. The spread of fungal infection occurs in babies with immunodeficiencies. If the child has type 2 diabetes, then this can also be the reason for the development of candidiasis in the body.

  • Amoebiasis or toxoplasmosis infection. In this case, the disease is caused by protozoa. Such forms of meningitis are relatively rare. The treatment requires the appointment of special drugs.
  • Meningitis resulting from other chronic diseases. In this case, with weakening of the immune system, the inflammatory process spreads throughout the child’s body, damaging the meninges as well.
  • In some babies, the disease can develop after traumatic / bolezni-rebenka / streptokokkovaya-infekciya / injuries of the brain or spinal cord during birth injuries or after accidents and accidents.
  • However, some babies are at greater risk of developing meningitis than others.

    Factors that increase the risk of the disease:

    Prematurity. According to statistics, babies who were born prematurely or had relatively low birth weight are more prone to this disease than their full-term peers.

    Birth injury. If traumatic brain damage occurred during the birth of a child, this can also be the cause of the development of meningitis.

    Infection with viral or bacterial infections during pregnancy by the mother. Rubella virus infection is especially dangerous. It penetrates perfectly through the placental barrier and causes the fetus various disorders of the nervous system, including meningitis.

    Infection in infants with various infectious diseases (especially in babies with congenital diseases of the nervous system).

    Viral meningitis in children is more common than other forms. Viruses – Causes of Meningitis:

    • enteroviruses, including Coxsackie;
    • influenza viruses, chickenpox, shingles;
    • arboviruses, including encephalitis virus,
    • herpes viruses of the 1st and 2nd types;
    • mumps virus;
    • cytomegalovirus.

    Bacterial meningitis in children and adults cause:

    • meningococcus;
    • Pneumococcus;
    • staphylococcus;
    • listeria (with weak immunity and in the elderly);
    • tubercle bacillus (causes secondary meningitis);
    • E. coli (a common cause of meningitis in newborns);
    • hemophilic bacillus.

    Spirochetes causing meningitis are:

    • pale treponema, causing syphilis;
    • Borrelia causing Lyme disease;
    • leptospira.

    The incubation period

    The inflammatory process does not occur in the body from the first seconds of the disease. All meningitis is characterized by a different period when the first symptoms begin to appear. The time from the moment a provoking agent enters the body until the first clinical symptoms appear is called the incubation period.

    With viral forms, this time can be reduced to 2-3 days. Very often, babies become infected by airborne droplets. This is the most common route of transmission. Toddlers who attend preschool education are at greater risk of infection.

    Even despite the various causes that cause inflammation, after the incubation period, the baby develops characteristic specific signs of the disease. Recognizing meningitis at home is a daunting task. However, every mother must know the main clinical manifestations of the disease.

    Does the course of the disease differ in children of different ages?

    How to recognize pathology in the early stages in children of different ages, what specific reactions of the body appear – we will talk about all this today.

    What is meningitis

    Most likely, in childhood, you often had to hear from your parents the phrase that if you walk without a hat in winter, you can get meningitis. But the development of meningitis has nothing to do with the presence of a cap on the head or its absence.

    Subcooling can serve as a trigger, but the root cause of the disease is not.

    • Most often, children under the age of 5 suffer from meningitis. The incidence rate of children is about 80%. Older children (up to 14 years old) are not so susceptible to the disease – only in 10 cases out of 100 are diagnosed with adolescents.
    • Meningitis is an inflammatory process in the meninges of the spinal cord or brain. It is transmitted by airborne droplets from an infected person or carrier of infection. The most dangerous contacts with seriously ill people in the early days of the disease.
    • Less commonly, pathogens are domestic and wild animals.

    Types of pathology

    • Viral meningitis – develops against the background of rubella, smallpox, measles, flu;
    • bacterial – occurs when infected with staphylococci, meningococci, hemophilic bacillus, salmonella;
    • fungal – a rare form of the disease, occurs with the active growth of fungi of the genus Candida against the background of weakened immunity, autoimmune, endocrine diseases;
    • parasitic – an infectious disease occurs when infected with amoeba, toxoplasma.

    By the nature of the inflammation, meningitis is purulent and serous, can occur in acute or chronic form.

    Most often, the disease is diagnosed in children under 4 years of age, the peak of the disease occurs in 3-8 months of the baby’s life. Even with timely medical care, the number of deaths is 5-30%, more than 30% of children after recovery have severe neurological disorders.

    Features of the course of the disease in babies in different age categories can vary significantly. This, to a large extent, depends on the initial physiological level of development of the child. In newborn babies, the disease can proceed quite differently from schoolchildren. The most dangerous age period is up to 5 years.

    Such babies are characterized by severe symptoms of intoxication and fever. This is due to age-related features of thermoregulation. Body temperature rises to 39-39,5 degrees in a few hours. Kids become lethargic, refuse to feed. Often there is the appearance of vomiting during high fever or severe headache.

    At this time, as a rule, the child may already tell his mother what is bothering him. This allows parents to navigate much earlier and call a pediatrician. A baby at the age of 3 years with meningitis will be very moody, drowsy. Habitual games and favorite activities during illness do not bring the child satisfaction and joy. Babies of this age often have light and sound dislike.

    The effects of meningitis in children

    After treatment, in most cases, clinical recovery occurs. This means that life-threatening consequences are eliminated. However, not all children have meningitis easily and without complications. One of the mildest manifestations that arose after an illness can be a violation of memorization. At kids memory and attention worsens. Some children may complain of decreased attention span and ability to remember.

    In severe cases, this condition can even lead to the development of chronic renal failure. This complication is quite rare and requires observation of the baby by a nephrologist.

    Quite often, in infants up to three years old, heart rhythm disturbances occur. In this case, for a long time in children on the ECG various types of arrhythmias are recorded. Such cases require mandatory consultation with a cardiologist to draw up the correct tactics for monitoring the baby and prescribing special treatment.

    The negative effects of meningitis in the absence of adequate treatment can be disastrous. Children may experience mental, auditory, speech disorders, seizures, hydrocephalus, damage to the facial nerves, as well as serious complications such as paralysis or paresis, deafness, blindness, dementia.

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    Tatyana Jakowenko

    Editor-in-chief of the Detonic online magazine, cardiologist Yakovenko-Plahotnaya Tatyana. Author of more than 950 scientific articles, including in foreign medical journals. He has been working as a cardiologist in a clinical hospital for over 12 years. He owns modern methods of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and implements them in his professional activities. For example, it uses methods of resuscitation of the heart, decoding of ECG, functional tests, cyclic ergometry and knows echocardiography very well.

    For 10 years, she has been an active participant in numerous medical symposia and workshops for doctors - families, therapists and cardiologists. He has many publications on a healthy lifestyle, diagnosis and treatment of heart and vascular diseases.

    He regularly monitors new publications of European and American cardiology journals, writes scientific articles, prepares reports at scientific conferences and participates in European cardiology congresses.