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Meningitis, fever, and Spinal Taps

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
For those foregoing vaccines that are to prevent diseases that potentially could lead to meningitis, what is your plan regarding ear infections, temperatures and spinal taps?

(*mods, please leave this here and don't move it if you don't mind. I really need the input of mamas who are not vaccinating rather than an overall care/treatment health approach).

My daughter was diagnosed with 2 ear infections 10 days ago. Due to her age, just a week over 6 months, the doctor hesitated but then felt we should put her on antibiotics. If she had been older, I think he would have let it run it's course without recommending antibiotics. I had already let it go for about 5 days as I suspected an ear infection because she was lightly pulling her ear but otherwise, seemed happy. Turns out both ears were infected.

When we left, the doc told me to watch our for symptoms of crankiness, fever and decreases appetite. She is now displaying symptoms of the first two. She didn't sleep well at all last night and though we didn't take her temp, I suspect she had a slight fever. She also just cut another tooth. She also has her runny nose back. And now a slight fever of 100.6. She seemed in good spirits this morning though.

What are some things I need to know just in case this fever goes higher and we take her in? She is not vaccinated other than one DTaP. What should I expect in terms of standard approaches to a 6.5 month old with a fever, unvaccinated and very recent history of ear infections? What is your plan for such a scenario with your baby if you don't vaccinate?

Trying not to freak out... the fever could easiliy be due to the new tooth.
post #2 of 26
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post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
For those foregoing vaccines that are to prevent diseases that potentially could lead to meningitis, what is your plan regarding ear infections, temperatures and spinal taps?

(*mods, please leave this here and don't move it if you don't mind. I really need the input of mamas who are not vaccinating rather than an overall care/treatment health approach).

My daughter was diagnosed with 2 ear infections 10 days ago. Due to her age, just a week over 6 months, the doctor hesitated but then felt we should put her on antibiotics. If she had been older, I think he would have let it run it's course without recommending antibiotics. I had already let it go for about 5 days as I suspected an ear infection because she was lightly pulling her ear but otherwise, seemed happy. Turns out both ears were infected.

When we left, the doc told me to watch our for symptoms of crankiness, fever and decreases appetite. She is now displaying symptoms of the first two. She didn't sleep well at all last night and though we didn't take her temp, I suspect she had a slight fever. She also just cut another tooth. She also has her runny nose back. And now a slight fever of 100.6. She seemed in good spirits this morning though.

What are some things I need to know just in case this fever goes higher and we take her in? She is not vaccinated other than one DTaP. What should I expect in terms of standard approaches to a 6.5 month old with a fever, unvaccinated and very recent history of ear infections? What is your plan for such a scenario with your baby if you don't vaccinate?

Trying not to freak out... the fever could easiliy be due to the new tooth.

Okay. A bit confused here. My child has never had an ear infection. There is no vaccine for ear infections. (they try to say prevnar MAY help, but it's not approved for that use... )

Dd has had a fever a number of times Kids get sick. Why would I take her to the ped for a fever? She has had a fever up slightly over 105. It lasted a day or so and then she was better.

-Angela
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
I can't debate it right now... but some kinds of bacterial infections can lead to infections that lead to meningitis. And unless they know which bacteria, they could easily assume it's PC or Hib or another for which _they_ believe (right or wrong) that vaccines help prevent turning to meningitis. If I get blamed for not vaccinating, this is what I want to be ready for and know the risks of a spinal tap in such a circumstance.
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
I can't debate it right now... but some kinds of bacterial infections can lead to infections that lead to meningitis. And unless they know which bacteria, they could easily assume it's PC or Hib or another for which _they_ believe (right or wrong) that vaccines help prevent turning to meningitis. If I get blamed for not vaccinating, this is what I want to be ready for and know the risks of a spinal tap in such a circumstance.
I'm not debating, just trying to understand

Really basically any bacteria can lead to meningitis. I wouldn't let them do a spinal tap unless I thought that was a reasonable conclusion

I wouldn't take the child to a dr. unless there was something specific I wanted from the dr.

I don't take kids in for a fever.

-Angela
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
And unless they know which bacteria, they could easily assume it's PC or Hib or another for which _they_ believe (right or wrong) that vaccines help prevent turning to meningitis.
And the vaccines don't prevent it from becoming meningitis, they just make the child immune to those strains of bacteria all together.

Make sense?

-Angela
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Yes, I understand the vaccines don't prevent meningitis. But if she is not responding to the antibiotics for the ear infections, then the risks of it leading to something more complicated are real. Without the ear infections, I wouldn't necessarily take her in either and would take a wait and see approach. But she has a recent infection that may or may not be gone. This is the concern.

What would be a "reasonable conclusion" for you to consent to a spinal tap? this is what I am really after by posting. WHat would be a reasonable conclusion for consenting to such an invasive diagnostic proceedure?
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
Yes, I understand the vaccines don't prevent meningitis. But if she is not responding to the antibiotics for the ear infections, then the risks of it leading to something more complicated are real. Without the ear infections, I wouldn't necessarily take her in either and would take a wait and see approach. But she has a recent infection that may or may not be gone. This is the concern.

What would be a "reasonable conclusion" for you to consent to a spinal tap? this is what I am really after by posting. WHat would be a reasonable conclusion for consenting to such an invasive diagnostic proceedure?
Was the ear infection cultured (unlikely)? Most ear infections are actually viral- not even bacterial. That's why antibiotics shouldn't even be prescribed for a run of the mill ear infection.

When would I allow a spinal tap? Very high fever (over 104 for sure- probably over 105) for an extended period. Baby CLEARLY in pain. Limited neck/head motion. Fever does not fluctuate (a fluctuating fever usually says virus, steady fever usually says bacteria) Fever does not respond to things like cloths on the head and warm baths. I have no other explanation for symptoms. Mama radar says something is VERY wrong.

-Angela
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Angela, from how I understand it, meningitis can go very fast. If one waited until those symptoms presented themselves, it could be really risky that it would be too far along. Or not?
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
What would be a "reasonable conclusion" for you to consent to a spinal tap? this is what I am really after by posting. WHat would be a reasonable conclusion for consenting to such an invasive diagnostic proceedure?
A sudden change in her symptoms...probably with vomiting and/or a spike in fever. When kids get bad bacteremia (bacteria in the blood...that has to happen before the bacteria can make it to the brain) you know something is wrong.
In which case, RUN to the ER.
Just remember that 99.99% of ear infections don't actually turn into meningitis, though. (I know you know that...just trying to calm you down. )
But yeah...it does happen every once in a while, and I freak out about that stuff sometimes, too.

ETA: Unfortunately, there's no good "checklist" out there other than your gut instinct. Docs are real iffy themselves on when to do a spinal tap. Because there's no good symptom list, I think they've gone way over the top now, and they want to give ANY baby with ANY fever a spinal tap. Which I'm personally not down with.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
Angela, from how I understand it, meningitis can go very fast. If one waited until those symptoms presented themselves, it could be really risky that it would be too far along. Or not?
I don't remember where I read this, but being on antibiotics can nip it in the bud before it even starts, too. (the only real reason to use abx for an ear infection, IMO).
If, say, one of the ear infections were to burst, and it was bacterial, and the bacteria crossed over into the blood that way, the abx she's on would quite possibly keep the bacteria from going bonkers and turning into a nasty invasive infection.
I'm pretty sure that's one of the reasons why some docs like to give abx for ear infections.

But my disclaimer is that I'm not 100% sure of how that works, or what my source on that was.
post #12 of 26
I'm sorry your DD is sick. Last spring my DD got very sick, too. She had a virus for about 10 days, then suddenly got a very high fever (105+) that I couldn't get down. At the ER they incompetant Dr. told me he could tell by looking at her she had a virus and sent us home (waste of $500!), but the next day I took her to my ped who did a CBC, urine screen (she has had UTIs before), and a blood culture. Her WBC count came back so high that Dr. wanted DD admitted to a childrens hospital 5 hours from our home. There were no signs of infection and no one could figure out where the infection was coming from. Of course they wanted to do a spinal tap, but her range of motion in her head and neck was fine w/o pain (she was 2 and could verbalize pain) so I did not allow a spinal tap. If she had any head or neck stiffness I probably would have allowed it, but I am very leary of anyone poking something into my childs spine! Turns out she had a bad case of pneumonia, and they dn't really know how she got it b/c she had no resp. symptoms or coughing. They found it via an x-ray (but wanted to do a CT scan w/ DD sedated, I don't think so!). I was given lots of flack about our no prevnar/Hib vax status, but in reality they cannot know what she had b/c theycould not culture it. I say follow you GUT. My GUT told me something was wrong w/ my DD. She was lethargic and had a high fever. It was my first ever ER visit for taking in a sick kid, and maybe my last! I really do trust my ped, though.

I really hope your DD gets better. I'd say she probably will
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
Angela, from how I understand it, meningitis can go very fast. If one waited until those symptoms presented themselves, it could be really risky that it would be too far along. Or not?
I might be more wary if I were a couple of hours from medical care I suppose. But I live in a big city full of medical care and hospitals. I can be at *a* hospital in 5-7 minutes. A top rated children's hospital in 20-30 minutes.

And no- if you're on top of things, those symptoms, at first showing, are not going to be too late. I wouldn't have a sick baby sleeping in another room for sure. And I wouldn't leave them with a babysitter. But with me right there? Not really a concern IMO.

Meningitis is RARE. Really. And usually it hits kids with weakened immune systems from something else. An otherwise healthy kid with an ear infection? Not a dire concern.

-Angela
post #14 of 26
Also, remember, if meningitis were a major child killer there would be huge billboard warnings about these kinds of symptoms. There's not.

The vaccines have done NOTHING to reduce overall numbers of cases of meningitis. They're just moving around which bugs are causing it.

-Angela
post #15 of 26
I don't see any difference in the approach based on whether the baby is vaccinated or not. Well, except for non-vaccinated babies are less likely to get sick in general and especially with meningitis . But if they do, I would study the signs of meningitis in that age group and monitor the baby carefully (do I get it right that it is meningitis that you're concerned about)?

I wouldn't use antibiotics or antipyretics either. I do use homeopathy.
Of course, spinal tap is out of question unless there are reasons to suspect meningitis (any cold or ear infection is not such a reason).

Just in case, a basic list of signs in babies (all of them don't have to be present):

Tense or bulging soft spot
High Temperature
Very sleepy/staring expression/too sleepy to wake up
Vomiting/refusing to feed
Irritable when picked up, with a high pitch or moaning cry
Breathing fast / difficulty breathing
Blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue
Extreme shivering
A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy / lifeless
'Pin prick' rash / marks or purple bruises on the body
Cold hands and feet
Sometimes diarrhoea
Pain/ irritability from muscle aches or severe limb/joint pain

(that's from meningitis.org)
post #16 of 26
Quote:
I don't see any difference in the approach based on whether the baby is vaccinated or not.
Well, here in the US, docs think lack of prevnar is a major risk factor for meningitis...like, not having prevnar causes meningitis or something.
So we have to be careful about going to the ER, because in theory, they can have CPS remove our parental rights if we don't want to do a spinal tap. Like, if we're just being paranoid and want to have the baby checked out at night (suppose it's midnight, and we're just worried.)
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamakay View Post
Like, if we're just being paranoid and want to have the baby checked out at night (suppose it's midnight, and we're just worried.)
Which is a good reason to keep your wits about you and not run to an MD for a fever and a sniffle

-Angela
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamakay View Post
Well, here in the US, docs think lack of prevnar is a major risk factor for meningitis...like, not having prevnar causes meningitis or something.
So we have to be careful about going to the ER, because in theory, they can have CPS remove our parental rights if we don't want to do a spinal tap. Like, if we're just being paranoid and want to have the baby checked out at night (suppose it's midnight, and we're just worried.)
I should have said, MY approach
post #19 of 26
It's scary to think your child has meningitis. I've definitely thought about it during those middle of the night fevers, especially when sleep deprivation has set in.

Having HAD meningitis, I can tell you that it does come on fast (at least it did for me) but the signs were completely unmistakable. I was SICK SICK SICK. Thought I was dying, wished for death, my eyes felt like they were coming out of my skull (literally). FTR, my meningitis was viral, but still scary as hell!

With this info, I really don't worry too much unless my kids are down for the count. If they are unable to move their heads at all, or simply cry and cry without being able to console them, then I'll get worried. Otherwise, no.
post #20 of 26
My middle child used to get high fever, vomit, and get an ear infection every time he cut a tooth. E-VER-Y time. Because he didn't feel well he'd be fussier than normal, wouldn't really want to do much except nurse. These, IMO are normal symptoms of normal childhood....stuff.

I treated his ears with garlic/breastmilk.

The only way I'd ever let someone do a spinal tap is if I "knew" something was realllllllly wrong. Not just high fever/ear infection (not to negate your feelings at all...just explaining). If my kid had a bulging fontanel, couldn't turn head at all or with severe pain, was acting like a zombie, fever that spiked up to above 105-6(not persistant high fever but spiking, scary bacteria fever) all at the same time. But even then, I'd probably ask for bloodwork and a complete workup first.

I wouldn't treat it any differently than a vaxed kid because I'm aware vaxes aren't 100%. Couldn't say the same for the doctor though. I'd be veeeeeery careful where I went I'll tell ya that!
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