What are symptoms of meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019
  • Author: Rodrigo Hasbun, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Only about 44% of adults with bacterial meningitis exhibit the classic triad of fever, headache, and neck stiffness. [18] These symptoms can develop over several hours or over 1-2 days. In a large prospective study of 696 cases of adults with bacterial meningitis, van de Beek et al reported that 95% of the patients had 2 out of the following 4 symptoms: fever, headache, stiff neck, and altered mental status. [18]

Other symptoms can include the following:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Photalgia (photophobia) - Discomfort when the patient looks into bright lights

  • Sleepiness

  • Confusion

  • Irritability

  • Delirium

  • Coma

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