Home Health & Wellness Charity Urges People to Be Vocal About Viral Meningitis for Awareness Week

Charity Urges People to Be Vocal About Viral Meningitis for Awareness Week

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The UK’s leading meningitis charity has called for people who have experienced viral meningitis to be “Vocal about Viral” to help dispel myths and misconceptions about this form of the disease. Although rarely life-threatening, viral meningitis, which is more common than bacterial meningitis, can make some people incredibly unwell and for some, the after-effects can be life-changing, affecting people’s day-to-day lives and their ability to learn, play and work. 

The charity is using its annual Viral Meningitis Awareness Week, between the 6th and 10th of May, to inform the public, health professionals and employers about the true impact of the disease and the long-term after-effects it can cause. 

Expert opinion suggests several thousand people each year across the UK contract viral meningitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord

Meningitis Now’s President, TV presenter and fashion model Lisa Snowdon, is sharing her own experience of viral meningitis to support this year’s awareness week.  

Lisa became ill with viral meningitis in 2010 but despite terrible headaches and other signs of the disease, she continued to present her Capital London breakfast radio show. She only sought medical attention after switching on the Bond Street Christmas lights in December of that year, when she nearly collapsed in pain. 

Since then, Lisa has spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease, some of which she herself experienced without recognising them as relating to meningitis. 

She said: “It’s vital that everyone knows the signs and symptoms and understands how serious viral meningitis can be. It’s also important that those who have been affected by it, as well as their family and friends, are not afraid to speak out and seek the support they need. 

“Raising awareness will hopefully help dispel the myths and misconceptions that viral meningitis is always ‘mild’.” 

A recent national survey carried out for Meningitis Now by the Picker Institute highlighted gaps in follow-up care and support for adults with a recent experience of meningitis, with many not receiving the information and support they would have liked. 

The survey demonstrated that viral meningitis is still viewed by many as a short-term illness, despite having a lasting impact on some people. Survey responses included: “Healthcare providers don’t count viral meningitis as a serious illness so they dismiss it altogether,” and “People seem to think viral meningitis is not life changing and it is.” 

The after-effects of the disease can include exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, depression, anxiety and balance problems. Many people need to take long periods off from education or work, and struggle with the day-to-day tasks that most people take for granted. 

Bev Corbett, Meningitis Now’s Director of Information and Support, said: “As a centre of expertise for nearly 40 years, we know how devastating meningitis can be. This important survey with the Picker Institute has deepened our knowledge and understanding of the aftercare and support needs of adults impacted by viral meningitis in the UK.”  

Meningitis Now has a range of free services to support individuals and their families after viral meningitis, including its Rebuilding Futures Fund, which provides financial and practical support for people of all ages affected by meningitis. 

Symptoms of viral meningitis can include a severe headache, a dislike of bright lights, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting and confusion. The disease can affect anyone of any age. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention. 

Meningitis Now is urging anyone concerned about the impact of viral meningitis to contact their nurse-led helpline. Most people will make a full recovery. However, for some, recovery can be slow and the after-effects are long-lasting. Meningitis Now can provide a range of support, and even just a call with our experienced team can help you on the road to recovery. 

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