Bacterial Meningitis: Symptoms to Watch Out For

bacterial meningitis

My friend and I on New Years Eve '05

Three years ago today, my best friend from college passed away after contracting bacterial meningitis. She was 22.


You rarely think of older children or adults being at risk for this infection. It's more common in infants and young children. But, if ignored, the result can be tragic.

Bacterial meningitis is a serious infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. It's contagious, but only through direct, close contact.

Since early diagnosis can be the difference between life and death, beware these common symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Backache
  • Nausea and vomitting
  • Discomfort looking into bright lights
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness

My friend started complaining of a severe headache and backache on a Sunday evening. When it hadn't gone away by the next evening, she went to the ER. At this point, she was very confused, but the doctors blew it off, assuming that being a college student, she must have been on drugs. 

After she pleaded for several hours, they finally sent her to a larger hospital in a neighboring city. But at that point, it was too late. Had they done testing for it and realized what it actually was, they could have simply given her antibiotics and she'd more than likely be alive today. Instead, she was put in ICU, fell into a coma on Thursday, and passed away early Saturday morning.

Now, I'm not saying you should rush your kid to the hospital for every headache he complains about, but it's good to raise a flag if you spot any of these symptoms.

Are there any rare medical issues you're especially paranoid about?   

**This post was written in memory of my beloved and deeply missed friend.**

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