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VP Welfare & Community

Meningitis Schmeningitis...?

A student contacted me recently to make me aware of Meningitis and the problems it can cause students, they sadly lost someone near and dear to them so I’d like to make you all aware of the symptoms and what you can do to prevent it. Here is their account:

How many of you are aware of the symptoms and signs of Meningitis? I can confidently say I’m sure that over half of you reading this don’t have a clue about the symptoms, or even what Meningitis is.

Christmas last year my friends and family lost a very precious soul; aged just 19, our fun loving, active, healthy Sarah died over night from this terrible disease. Before this happened I’d never even heard of meningitis, let alone know the signs.

You might be wondering what this has got to do with students, well…

Primarily first year university students are at high risk of catching the disease predominantly due to the cramped and sometimes unhygienic residences they live in. To follow, many people from all over different parts of the world are coming together in confined spaces and students’ bodies are exposed to bacteria and viruses that are foreign to them, and difficult to fight off. However, one of the main threats of student life is the risk of not recognizing the disease early enough, the symptoms can easily be mistaken for that of flu, or even just the aftermath of a very heavy night. As students, our social lives become our worst enemy when meningitis is around as it can be passed from person to person from simply coughing, sneezing and also kissing.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. There are two types of meningitis, bacterial and viral. Bacterial meningitis can lead not only to severe brain damage but in more cases than not, death.  It needs to be caught quickly and treated as soon as possible; this type of meningitis is most common around student age. Secondly, viral meningitis, it is widespread during summer and although less serious, is still a very unpleasant experience. In 2012 there were over 3,000 cases of meningitis yet there is no public vaccination for university students.

So, what are the warning signs?

The early symptoms can include a few of the following; fever, headache, vomiting, aching muscles and change in one’s usual temperature. Meningitis sufferers can deteriorate very quickly; it is vital therefore that you act FAST.

Further symptoms include the individual being very difficult to wake, confusion, and severe muscle pain, mainly in the neck. Additional signs are that of a dislike of bright lights and even seizures or convulsions.

One of the most well known symptoms of meningitis is septicemia, this is a rash that may lead to purple bruising. The best way to test for this is the glass test; apply pressure with the side of a clear glass against the skin, the spots may begin to fade at first but keep examining. If the individual has a fever and the rash does not fade medical attention is required immediately. Catching it fast could possibly be the difference between life or death.

If you can I would recommend going to a private clinic and getting your meningitis B vaccine, speaking from experience all it is is a little scratch, two doses required.  It is worth theslight discomfort rather than losing your life.

‘Meningitis Now’ have created a symptoms App which you can download on any smartphone, simply search for ‘Meningitis Signs and Symptoms’. It takes two minutes and could save yours and/or somebody else’s life.

I have written this article to help make people aware of what they need to look out for – especially being at university. The world doesn’t need any more young people losing their lives far too early so please be both aware and alert for you and your friends.

 

In short, Meningitis is not a fun thing to have. If you wake up and display any of these symptoms (even if you have had a heavy night out) go and see your Doctor ASAP!

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