After Meningitis

After Effects of Meningitis 

Most people who get meningitis and septicemia survive, often without any after effects, but these diseases can cause a range of disabilities and problems that can alter people's lives.  After effects may be temporary or permanent. People respond to their own situations differently, but frequently are unsure of what to expect after meningitis or septicemia. Relatives and friends may also feel the need for information, because the person who is recovering often needs a great deal of support. Getting over meningitis or septicemia can make major demands on people. Fortunately, some problems improve and disappear over time.

After effects of meningitis

Memory loss / difficulty retaining information / lack of concentration
Clumsiness / coordination problems
Residual headaches
Learning difficulties (ranging from temporary learning deficiencies to long term mental impairment)
Epilepsy / seizures (fits)
Weakness, paralysis or spasms of part of body
Speech problems
Loss of sight/changes in sight

After effects of septicemia

Memory loss / difficulty retaining information / lack of concentration
Clumsiness / co-ordination problems
Arthritis / stiffness in joints
Scarring / skin damage
Amputations - for example, fingers, toes, arms or legs
Kidney damage
Lung damage

Who has after effects?

Most people recover with no after effects and not all after effects are permanent. The likelihood of getting after effects from meningitis or septicemia depends on several factors including the type and severity of the illness. People who have been desperately ill may have spent a long time in intensive care. Research has shown that intensive care can be a distressing experience both for the person who has the illness and for their family. Currently the majority of cases of bacterial meningitis and septicemia are caused by meningococcal infection. This produces severely disabling after effects in about one in twelve survivors, although patients who have severe meningococcal septicemia tend to have a worse outcome.

After meningococcal disease, pneumococcal meningitis is the main type and it is more likely to produce serious damage. Neonatal meningitis (occurring in the first month of life) also carries a higher risk of after effects than most other forms. A person recovering from viral meningitis may experience similar problems to someone who has had bacterial meningitis, but will rarely have severe after effects. It make take several weeks to months to recover after viral meningitis. Careful and early follow up of patients discharged after meningitis and septicemia is important. All patients should have hearing test because deafness is the most common after effect of bacterial meningitis. An estimated 25% of people who survive meningitis or septicemia will have less obvious after effects, such as difficulties with co-ordination, concentration and memory. These are usually temporary.

Good and bad days

Although some people are completely back to normal within a matter of weeks, it can take many months to recover from meningitis and septicemia. People often find that they have days when they feel very good, and others when they feel so bad that they worry they are becoming ill again. It is important to 'listen' to the needs of your body. There is no magic formula to feeling better, because the body needs time to recover fully. It is important to mention to employers and teachers that you may need time off. Help and support from your family doctor can be invaluable, and a doctor's note will be necessary if you need a longer period of rest.

Emotional after effects that may occur after meningitis and septicemia:

Temper tantrums
Moodiness or aggression
Disturbed sleep / nightmares
Changes in character
Learning difficulties
Fear of doctors and hospitals
Other behavioral and emotional problems

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Viral Meningitis:Living with the Aftermath

Your Guide: Recovering from childhood meningitis and septicemia

Your Guide provides in depth information about recovery and potential after effects of meningitis and septicemia.
Free: Download Your Guide Link
Cover of 'Your Guide' document that shows a young girl with a pencil in her hand.
Source: Meningitis Research Foundation - UK
Phone or Fax - (519) 664-0244
E-mail -
P.O. Box 28015 R.P.O. Parkdale
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8
Charitable Registration # 89751 8429 RR0001
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