Meningitis and Septicemia in Children

The problem with being a parent and having children is that so many childhood illnesses have similar symptoms. You may not know if your child simply has a cold, the flu, or something more serious. It’s important to learn the symptoms of meningitis and septicemia in children to ensure you can make the best decisions for the sake of your child.


Quick, which health condition do these symptoms sound like: fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headache? You may have said the flu. If looking only to these symptoms for diagnosis, you may not think you have anything to worry about. Unfortunately, you may be wrong. These same symptoms may be a sign of meningococcal disease, also known as bacterial meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is a serious condition and mistaking the symptoms for something less serious could mean the difference between life and death. It is a condition whereby the membranes and fluids around the brain and spine become inflamed. If left untreated, a person may experience paralysis, brain damage, or even death. Early detection is important in order to treat a person and avoid these serious results.

Bacterial meningitis can develop quickly. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, headache, runny nose, and high fever, all of which could be mistaken for a simple viral infection. However, you can suspect bacterial meningitis if the following symptoms are also present:

* Skin rash
* Sensitivity to light
* Lethargy or fatigue
* Stiff neck
* Seizures

Very young children may experience jaundice, stiffness of the neck and body, poor feeding, high-pitched crying, a soft bulge at the top front of the skull, and a fever or low temperature. If you or a child has many of these symptoms at the same time, get to the doctor as quickly as you can.


Septicemia, or bacteremia, is another illness parents will want to learn to recognize the symptoms of. It is associated with the gram-negative bacteria such as staphylococci and streptococci. Symptoms include fever, chills, a rapid heartbeat, and rapid breathing.

Septicemia, left untreated, may lead to organ failure or septic shock which has a mortality rate of as much as 60% among people having autoimmune problems. Patients without an autoimmune problem have a mortality rate closer to 5%.

The body has a variety of bacteria within the intestinal tract which pose no threat. However, once they enter the bloodstream, they can wreak havoc by developing into an overwhelming infection. The most common causes of septicemia include having a surgical procedure, urinary catheters, knife or bullet wound, or getting infected fecal matter into a wound.

Diagnosis of septicemia will come through a visit to the doctor where they’ll take your medical history, a physical examination, and blood tests to determine the offending infectious agent.

Treatment is normally aggressive and may vary depending upon the underlying infection, how far the septicemia has progressed, the overall health of the person, and any other disease present. Normally treatment will include antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and blood pressure medications depending upon whether low blood pressure or shock develops.

No parent wants to see their child affected by serious health conditions such as bacterial meningitis or septicemia. Unfortunately, children of all ages are affected by both of these conditions each year. Learning to recognize the symptoms of meningitis and septicemia in children will enable you to get medical treatment as soon as possible so treatment can begin and your child can begin their road to recovery.