Health A-Z

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The symptoms of meningitis vary, but often include:

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Stiff neck

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Drowsiness

  • Confusion

Symptoms may be milder in cases of viral meningitis, while in cases of bacterial meningitis, symptoms may come on quite suddenly. In very young children, symptoms may be particularly hard to detect. Babies with meningitis may be less active, vomit, refuse to eat or be irritable. A person in later stages of bacterial meningitis may have seizures and lose consciousness (pass out).

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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