Viral Meningitis Week 2015

This week Meningitis Now is raising awareness of viral meningitis and calling on people to be #VocalAboutViral

Unfortunately viral meningitis is often considered a ‘milder strain’ of meningitis and so people may not receive the same level of information and support as those suffering from other strains. Those who have suffered viral meningitus often say that any after affects they are left with are taken less seriously.

Viral meningitis

Viral meningitis is the most common form of meningitis affecting an estimated 6,000 people each year.  It can affect anyone but is more common in babies and young children.  Viral meningitis is an infection which causes inflammation of the membranes which surround the brain and spinal cord (called the meninges).   Many viruses can cause meningitis but the most common is called enteroviruses which live in the intestine and can cause colds, sore throats and stomach upsets.  Other viruses which can cause meningitis are mumps, measles and HIV. [Meningitis Now have a factsheet which you can download here.] (598k)

Signs and symptoms of meningitis

Knowing the symptoms of meningitis can save a life. Watch this short video to make sure you know what to look for and when to take action.
Signs and symptoms of meningitis
Signs and symptoms of meningitis

Long term effects of meningitis

Meningitis Now conducted a survey which showed that 97% of people affected by viral meningitis are being left with lasting after affects.  They found the most common after affects are exhaustion, headaches and memory problems.  People also said they struggled with:
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • balance problems
  • hearing difficulties
  • personality changes
  • aching joints and limbs
  • sight problems
  • learning difficulties
  • speech and language problems
  • noise intolerance
  • light aversion

Taneth’s story

Taneth’s story highlights that viral meningitis can leave people with lasting effects.  Taneth developed viral meningitis when she was 21 training for the London Marathon and working in a children’s nursery before starting  university.

 
Taneth
“One night in early October last year I woke up sweating and confused. I spent the night vomiting and called my GP for an emergency appointment. I was rushed to A& E where I was diagnosed with viral meningitis. My memory of this time is blurred and I can’t remember anything clearly until a couple of days later when I was home at my mum's.” "Since being diagnosed with viral meningitis I have suffered daily headaches, aching limbs and memory problems. Aside from the physical pain, often I can’t find the words to express what I want to say. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate or read and I’ve developed a blind spot in the corner of my eye which, paired with the lack of concentration, makes me feel unsafe to drive.” "Although I've had incredible support from my partner, family, university and GP, I do feel like viral meningitis is not taken seriously at all. When I was given the diagnosis in hospital I was relieved to find that it wasn’t bacterial with septicaemia, but I also felt that I was brushed off a little with the diagnosis of a ‘more mild form of meningitis’ “Now, when I talk to people and say that I’m still suffering with the after-effects of viral meningitis this long afterwards, I feel like they think I’m milking it, or that I’m feeble for still suffering."

Find out more about meningitis

  • You can read Emma's story about another strain of meningitis here.
  • Learn more about how you can support young people after meningitis in our blog here.
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