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Brain Infection (cont.)

What Are Brain Infection Symptoms and Signs?

Patient Comments

Various types of brain infections lead to many different symptoms, which can depend on the age of the person, the type of bacteria, the type of infection, and the acuteness of the disease.

  • In general, people older than 2 years of age with acute bacterial infection develop high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, discomfort when looking into a bright light, sleepiness, and confusion.
  • Newborns and infants can be unusually fussy, irritable, and sleepy. They may feed poorly and not be comforted by holding. Seizures can be a late development of the disease.
  • Severe forms of bacterial meningitis, particularly meningococcal, can cause shock with complete loss of consciousness and coma and bring about a spreading purplish rash. An infant can have bulging fontanelles (soft spots) on the head and have a decreased muscle tone in arms and legs.
  • Someone with viral brain infections tends to appear somewhat less ill. Flu-like symptoms in addition to mild signs and symptoms outlined for each condition may be seen.

When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for a Brain Infection?

Early diagnosis and treatment are very important with brain infections. However, most of the symptoms of meningitis and other central nervous system infections can be caused by other medical conditions, too. Do not panic. In young infants, meningitis might look like general symptoms such as crying too much, sleeping too much, eating too little, irritability, and listlessness. Whenever one suspects meningitis or any other brain infection, or are in doubt, call a doctor.

Seek emergency care if an ill person has an altered level of consciousness with high fever, respiratory distress, severe headache with vomiting, a new seizure or if a baby appears to be lethargic, with poor feeding, a high fever, and vomiting.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2016
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