Symptoms of meningitis can appear in any order. Some may not appear at all. In the early stages, there may not be a rash, or the rash may fade on pressure.
You should get medical help immediately if you're concerned about yourself or your child.
Trust your instincts and do not wait until a rash develops.
Symptoms of meningitis, septicaemia and meningococcal disease include:
- a high temperature
- cold hands and feet
- breathing quickly
- muscle and joint pain
- pale, mottled or blotchy skin
- spots or a rash
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- being very sleepy or difficult to wake
- fits (seizures)
Babies may also:
- refuse feeds
- be irritable
- have a high-pitched cry
- have a stiff body or be floppy or unresponsive
- have a bulging soft spot on the top of their head
Someone with meningitis, septicaemia or meningococcal disease can get a lot worse very quickly.
Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E if you think you or your child might be seriously ill.
Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious.
If a rash does not fade under a glass, it can be a sign of sepsis (sometimes called septicaemia or blood poisoning) caused by meningitis and you should call 999 straight away.
Page last reviewed: 08 March 2019
Next review due: 08 March 2022