Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Usually the cause is a viral infection, but bacteria can also cause it. It can be mild or severe. Most cases are mild. You may have flu-like symptoms. With a mild case, you may just need rest, plenty of fluids, and a pain reliever.

Severe cases need immediate treatment. Symptoms of severe cases include

  • Severe headache
  • Sudden fever
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

In babies, additional symptoms may include constant crying, poor feeding, body stiffness, and bulging in the soft spots of the skull.

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.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Encephalitis

The following features are indicative of Encephalitis:
  • headache
  • fever
  • aches in muscles or joints
  • fatigue or weakness
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • seizures
  • loss of sensation in certain areas of the face or body
  • muscle weakness
  • double vision
  • perception of foul smells
  • problems with speech or hearing
  • loss of consciousness
It is possible that Encephalitis shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Encephalitis

The following are the most common causes of Encephalitis:
  • viral infection
  • faulty immune system reaction in response to an infection
  • herpes simplex virus
  • enteroviruses
  • mosquito-borne viruses
  • tick-borne viruses

Other Causes of Encephalitis

The following are the less common causes of Encephalitis:
  • measles
  • mumps
  • rabies virus

Risk Factors for Encephalitis

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Encephalitis:
  • young children and older adults
  • weakened immune system

Prevention of Encephalitis

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Encephalitis. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • practice good hygiene
  • do not share utensils
  • teach your children good habits
  • get vaccinated against infections

Occurrence of Encephalitis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Encephalitis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Not common between 50K - 500K cases

Common Age Group

Encephalitis can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Encephalitis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Encephalitis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Encephalitis:
  • Brain imaging: To reveal swelling of the brain or another condition
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture): To see changes in the cerebrospinal fluid
  • Brain biopsy:To check if symptoms are worsening and treatments are having no effect by removing a small sample of brain tissue

Doctor for Diagnosis of Encephalitis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Encephalitis:
  • Neurologist

Complications of Encephalitis if untreated

Yes, Encephalitis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Encephalitis is left untreated:
  • persistent fatigue
  • weakness or lack of muscle coordination
  • personality changes
  • memory problems
  • paralysis
  • hearing or vision defects
  • speech impairments

Self-care for Encephalitis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Encephalitis:
  • Practice good hygiene: Helps in preventing viral encephalitis
  • Don't share utensils: Helps in preventing viral encephalitis

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Encephalitis

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Encephalitis:
  • Physical therapy: To improve strength, flexibility, balance, motor coordination and mobility
  • Psychotherapy: To learn coping strategies and new behavioral skills to improve mood disorders or address personality changes
  • Speech therapy: To relearn muscle control and coordination to produce speech
  • Occupational therapy: To develop everyday skills and to use adaptive products that help with everyday activities

Is Encephalitis Infectious?

Yes, Encephalitis is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • contact with saliva, nasal discharge, feces, or respiratory and throat secretions

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Encephalitis.

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