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A parent’s fear….. Meningitis


Being a father of one who trains people in the ways of first aid has a lot of beneficial experiences. To name a few, I get to teach people that what Hollywood depicts as first aid isn’t entirely true, I also have the privilege to get my learners more confident in doing first aid and I get to tell them that even if you are not able to do anything but call 999/112, it is better than doing nothing at all.

As I train people everyday, I am a constant “First Aider” everyday! If someone tries to catch their breathe I think they need an asthma pump, if a person coughs while eating I think they’re choking. Like earlier on today I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who had a bit of indigestion whilst he was talking, at the same time I was planning my means of treatment on him if he went into cardiac arrest when I am meant listen to him tell me his woes (life as an instructor isn’t bad believe me. And no I don’t always think people are going to die on me, I just make contingencies.. DIFFERENCE!)

Now then, as a person who trains those how to do first aid on adults and children, to a degree I understand the signs and symptoms of meningitis and its ramifications if it is not dealt with properly. However as a parent I acknowledge the fear of a parent when they believe their child may have the disease.Though it is understandable as to why they feel that way, I believe that it is the lack of knowledge on this topic and people’s unfortunate experiences that affect their perception of the disease.

So I present this blog to those who are overly sceptical of meningitis, and would like a crash course on meningitis. But before we get into the disease, let me highlight what is being affected first.

In a human body we have meninges, and they are separated into 3 membranes which line or cover the skull:

  1. Vertebral canal

  2. Brain

  3. Spinal cord

Saying this, the main role for the meninges is to provide protection to the central nervous system.

Now then, what is meningitis?

It is the inflammation of the meninges which can be a result of either a fungal, bacterial or viral infection. Now the type of meningitis a person may have is dependent on whether it was contracted virally or bacterially or fungal.

“Okay Adrian, why would you class this disease as one of a parent’s worse fear? won’t the doctor usually diagnose this straight away if a patient had meningitis?”

Well… This is why I’m writing this to let you know, not 100% of the time.


At first it may appear as a typical fever, which we have all been through at one point. Where we have felt sluggish, tired, cold when its hot and hot when its cold, quite delirious, a reduced appetite, feeling achy and quite drowsy.

Now the red flag signs of meningitis can be:

  • Severe or persistent headaches

  • Stiff neck (it is difficult for the chin to touch the chest)

  • Sensitivity to bright light

  • On a baby the soft spot on the top of their heads called the fontanel will bulge and is a sign of swelling in the brain, seizures, cold hands and feet, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, rapid breathing and the dreaded skin rash.

As for the rash, it is usually the last symptom to appear and occurs when poisons are being released in the blood stream which consequently damages blood vessels that leak to the surface of the skin, and they can easily be confused as a bruise at first. This will only take place if the meningitis was contracted bacterially.

Click on the link here to learn more about the tumbler glass test, if you suspect a person has this type of rash mentioned above.But please bear in mind that not all the above symptoms appear at one time.Okay…. The tone of this entry is becoming a bit gloom and doom, but not to worry there is light at the end of this tunnel, just keep reading!


Meningitis is curable and is easier to get rid of, the earlier that it is diagnosed or even noticed. As mentioned above, as awesome as these Doctors may be, they are still human and are liable to make mistakes. Which then brings me to my closing point… As a parent, guardian, next of kin, relative, close friend etc. if you do not feel right about a diagnosis that a doctor may give, you are now aware of some of the symptoms to look out for so insist on a hospital referral, pester them, stalk them if you have to!…well maybe not that last one, but do all that you can to get your loved one to get the right care they need.And to finish this blog, if you suspect anyone to have meningitis….. DO NOT WAIT FOR A RASH!

“Being sick is your body’s way of saying you’re too awesome and you need to slow down so everyone can catch up” Unknown Author


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