Encephalitis is an inflammation that comes suddenly and thrives to the brain. Encephalitis causes and treatment usually requires immediate care.
When it strikes, it can be very serious, causing personality changes, seizures, weakness, and other symptoms depending on the part of the brain affected.
The inflammation is usually resulting from either a viral infection or due to the body’s immune system that is mistakenly attacking brain tissue. This disease commonly occurs because of viral infection.
There is inflammation in the brain and because of the body’s attempt to fight off the virus.
Fast facts on encephalitis
- Rarely life-threatening
- Only a handful of antiviral medications can help to treat this disease
- Early symptoms are fever, headache, and photophobia (light sensitive)
- Most often affects children, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems
- Complications of encephalitis may include epilepsy and loss of memory
Less common symptoms
The individual may also experience nuchal rigidity (neck stiffness), which can lead to a misdiagnosis of meningitis. There may be stiffness of the limbs, slow movements, and clumsiness. The patient may also be drowsy and have a cough.
In babies, additional symptoms may include constant crying, poor feeding, body stiffness, and bulging in the soft spots of the skull.
In more serious cases, the person may experience very severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation, memory loss, speech problems, hearing problems, hallucinations, as well as seizures and possibly coma. In some cases, the patient can become aggressive. Severe cases may require a stay in the hospital. Treatments include oral and intravenous (IV) medicines to reduce inflammation and treat infection. Patients with breathing difficulties may need artificial respiration. Some people may need physical, speech, and occupational therapy once the illness is under control.
Encephalitis Causes and Treatment
The most common cause is a viral infection. The brain becomes inflamed because of the body’s attempt to fight off the virus. This disease usually starts with a headache and fever. The indication rapidly worsens, and the patient may be seizures, confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness and even coma.t
This disease can be life-threatening, but this is rare to happen. Mortality depends on the severity of disease, factors, and age. Younger patients usually heal faster without having many ongoing health issues, while older patients are at higher risk for having complications and mortality.
For primary encephalitis, there is a direct viral infection to the brain, while for secondary encephalitis, it refers to an infection that begins elsewhere in the body then spread to the brain.
There are different types of encephalitis which is Japanese encephalitis; is spread by mosquitoes, tick-borne encephalitis; is spread by ticks and rabies; is spread through a bite from a mammal.
What Are the Treatments for Encephalitis?
With proper care, many people recover from encephalitis. Infants and elderly people are at greater risk of sustaining permanent brain damage.
Because complications from encephalitis can be serious, the condition requires hospitalization. Treatment will depend largely on your age and condition, as well as the form and cause of the disease.
If encephalitis is caused by a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics. Treatment for herpes-related encephalitis includes supportive care, as well as antiviral therapy with a drug such as acyclovir.
Other treatments may be used to lower fever, provide hydration, treat seizures if they develop, and reduce any pressure in the skull.
How Is Encephalitis Diagnosed?
To diagnose encephalitis, the doctor will consider your symptoms and ask about any recent illnesses and possible exposure to viruses — being near others who are ill or near mosquitoes or ticks, for example.
The doctor may also order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, spinal tap, or an electroencephalogram (EEG). Blood tests to check for the presence of bacteria or viruses and immune cells produced in response to them can also be helpful.
Rarely, an analysis of a brain tissue sample (biopsy) may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis in cases where symptoms are worsening, and treatments aren’t working. It can be very important to identify the type of encephalitis so that appropriate treatment can be given.
Complications of encephalitis
The majority number of patients who suffer from this disease go on to have at least one compilation. Especially for elderly patients, those who had symptoms of coma, and individuals who did not receive treatment at an early stage. Among the complications may include:
- Loss of memory
- Aphasia or language and speech problems
- Personality or behavioral changes – such as mood swings, frustration, anger, and anxiety
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Keeping up-to-date with vaccines is the most effective way of reducing the risk of developing encephalitis. These include vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, and if the virus exists in those areas, Japanese encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis.
In areas known to have mosquitoes that carry encephalitis-causing viruses, individuals should take measures to reduce the risk of being bitten. This may include wearing appropriate clothing, avoiding mosquito-infested areas, avoiding going outside at specific times during the day when there are large numbers of mosquitoes about, keeping the home mosquito-free, using mosquito repellent and making sure there is no stagnant water around the home.
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