Su Laurent explains what is meningitis and febrile convulsions in children, and what to do if your children have those conditions.
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Wendy Turner: In today’s health check Dr. Su Laurent the Consultant Pediatrician from Barnet Hospital and the baby channels medical advisor has joined me to tell parents through two conditions, which cause a great deal of worry and anxiety; Meningitis and Febrile convulsions. Hello, Su. Su Laurent: Hello, Wendy. Wendy Turner: Alright, let’s talk with Meningitis. What exactly is Meningitis? Su Laurent: Meningitis is an infection of the meningi and the meninges are the coverings of the brain. So, if as you can imagine, if you get an infection at that area you will have the symptoms, which will include headache, vomiting, and if your baby irritability, high fever, and looking generally very unwell. Wendy Turner: Is this one of the classic symptoms of stiff neck? Su Laurent: A stiff neck absolutely. Particularly in older child, the inability to bend the neck forward likes that because everything is so painful because the meningis go around the brain, and then they go down the spinal cord as well. So, the whole thing becomes very, very stiff. Wendy Turner: Of course, like any illness in a small child or a baby in particular. What does the parent, should she look out for? Su Laurent: Well, I think it’s very important, it’s just why children are so different from adults and we shouldn’t treat them just like small adults. The baby with Meningitis all you may get is irritability excessive crying, high fever, being of their feeds, vomiting something, which makes you feel, I’m worried about my baby, that’s what you might say, see you may will get any neck stiffness at all, they would be able to say, I’ve got a headache. Wendy Turner: Of course this is the problem. Su Laurent: This is the problem. There are two forms of Meningitis largely, if you look at the two groups; one is viral Meningitis, which on the whole gets better whatever you do, but the salt that we more commonly in hospital is bacterial Meningitis and one of these particularly is associated with a rash, I think many of our view is will know about the rash because actually it’s very commonly known about, I think I want to describe that now for today’s people who don’t know. Wendy Turner: Absolutely. Su Laurent: The rash of Meningococcal Meningitis is a classic rash, which looks a bit like a bruise, it looks likes there sort of blood is leaked under the skin and people may have heard about something called the tumbler test. What happens is with a normal rash, if you press and I’ll just show you with these glass tumbler, if you press a tumbler over the patch of a normal rash and you look through the glass what happens is, is what we called blanching; in other words, the redness goes away. But if you push tumbler over a patch of meningococcal rash or if you put it an over bruise it’s the same thing, it doesn’t go away. Wendy Turner: You still see it through the glass. Su Laurent: You can still see it through the glass that’s what’s called the tumbler test. If you see a child with a rash like that or even a little tiny red spots that again don’t go away we called them petikei, they just don’t go away. Wendy Turner: Could they be on any part of the body? Su Laurent: They can be on any part of the body at all. It’s very important to see medical attention urgently. If actually -- so important the GPs who see children like this with a sort of rash and a sort symptom, they always carry antibiotics with them and they will give an injection into the muscle quickly of an antibiotic, as soon as they see a child. So the way of seeking health is to go either to your GP, if your GP is very near or call a GP and say, what do I do or to go straight to hospital or even just to call 999, if you see that rash in an irritable baby or child. Wendy Turner: I’m sure you would also have seen heart breaking stories about infants who’ve had to have limbs and protecting. What is the complication being in that set of rash? Su Laurent: Well, I would say, one thing that’ll to just clarify is that Mening