Meningitis: when it’s more than just a cold

Winter is here! The pavements are icy, there are odd flurries of snow, sales of Kleenex are sky-high and everyone around you is sniffling, coughing and generally just complaining.

Catching a cold or the flu is sadly quite normal in winter. Regardless of how many Lemsips, cold and flu tablets, and duvet-&-Dexter-binges you use to relieve them, the virus just has to run its course.

However, sometimes the symptoms show more than just a nasty virus. It can be Meningitis. Continue reading to find out the signs and symptoms that you should look out for, and also to find out about the help and support that Coventry University can offer.


You may have heard that Meningitis is more common in youngsters, from the time of birth to the age of around five. However their symptoms are slightly different. They will sometimes refuse to be fed or picked up, there are also lots of other nasty sounding symptoms that can frankly just back off, if you ask me!

Don’t be complacent though, us grown ups can also be badly affected by the disease. There are two types of Meningitis: bacterial and viral. Viral Meningitis feels a lot more like the flu, whereas the bacterial Meningitis is more serious due to an increased risk of septicemia (blood poisoning).
Regardless, It’s important that you do not ignore any of these symptoms:


  • fever
  • cold hands and feet
  • throwing up
  • drowsiness
  • difficulty waking up
  • confusion
  • irritability
  • muscle pain
  • pale, blotchy skin
  • a distinctive rash
  • a headache
  • stiff neck
  • photophobia
  • convulsion or seizures

  • headaches
  • fever
  • generally feeling under the weather

Or, in more severe cases:

  • a stiff neck
  • muscle/pain
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • photophobia

Many of these symptoms are similar to those suffering with a cold, flu, stress or fatigue. This is why Meningitis is often missed. Similarly, the symptoms won’t all occur at once, making it difficult to tell whether the Meningitis is bacterial or viral.

Meningitis can be fatal. If you suspect that you may be suffering from it, call an ambulance or go straight to A&E. Hospitals won’t accuse you of being stupid or wasting their time, so it’s better to be safe. Another suggestion is to ring the 24 hour NHS 111 service, they will provide an instant telephone consultation to help you decide on the type of assistance that you’ll need. You can simply call 111 from any landline or mobile.

Do you want more information? Visit our Medical Centre. Alternatively, if you want to talk to somebody about the condition or require help to support a sufferer, we offer student counselling as part of our health and wellbeing facilities.