Meningitis: What you need to know

Okay so I know this is quite heavy and a lot darker than the top-fashion-picks and tips-for-freshers-week posts that you’re used to from us, but uni isn’t just about getting drunk and having fun. It’s also about becoming an adult, which involves being in-the-know when it comes to your health (it’s time to stop relying on your parents to look after you).

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membrane that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. What most people may not know is that there are two common types: bacterial and viral.

What are the symptoms?

The things to look out for are: a high fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, severe muscle pain, sensitivity to light, a severe headache, convulsions or seizures or pale skin with a rash - you can test the rash by pressing a glass against the skin; if the rash doesn’t disappear then this is a sign of meningitis or septicaemia.

What are the after-effects?

Sadly, 10-15% of people with meningitis die from it. Of those who survive, 1 in 5 end up with lifelong disabilities such as brain damage, loss of sight or hearing, loss of limbs and scarring.

Who does it affect?

Contrary to popular belief, you’re not out of the woods once you are over the age of 5. Anyone of any age can contract meningitis, and actually 17-18 year olds are more at risk from a certain strain of the disease. Even more so because the symptoms can sometimes resemble those of a really bad hangover so students living away from home are less likely to seek medical help.

What can I do?

Vaccinations against the disease are being offered to 17-22 year olds for free so there’s literally no excuse for not getting one! As a needle-phobic myself, even I can say that the jab is worth it.

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