A functional and/or structural disorder of the brain caused by diseases (e.g. liver disease, kidney disease), medications, chemicals, and injuries.

Symptoms of Encephalopathy

The following features are indicative of Encephalopathy:
  • forgetfulness
  • mild confusion
  • irritability
  • cerebral oedema
It is possible that Encephalopathy shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Encephalopathy

The following are the most common causes of Encephalopathy:
  • liver failure
  • consumption of large amounts of protein
  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • constipation
  • hyponatraemia
  • hypokalaemia
  • increased bilirubin levels
  • infections of the liver from virus
  • gallbladder disorders
  • anaemia

Other Causes of Encephalopathy

The following are the less common causes of Encephalopathy:
  • alkalosis
  • hypoxia
  • dehydration
  • use of sedatives such as benzodiazepines

Risk Factors for Encephalopathy

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Encephalopathy:
  • older age
  • female
  • liver disease due to causes other than alcohol
  • premature birth
  • polycythemia
  • Gilbert's syndrome
  • G6PD deficiency
  • bruising

Prevention of Encephalopathy

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Encephalopathy. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • do not drink alcohol
  • eat a healthy diet
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • do not share needles
  • do not have unprotected sex which can increase the risk of hepatitis
  • ask the doctor for hepatitis vaccinations

Occurrence of Encephalopathy

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Encephalopathy cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Encephalopathy can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Encephalopathy can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Encephalopathy

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Encephalopathy:
  • Liver function test: To check the excess bilirubin levels
  • Kidney function test: To check the creatinine levels
  • Clotting test: To check the ability of blood to clot
  • Jaundice bilirubin test: To diagnose the jaundice and determine the increased level of bilirubin in the blood
  • Liver panel test: To detect the liver damage

Complications of Encephalopathy if untreated

Yes, Encephalopathy causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Encephalopathy is left untreated:
  • portal hypertension
  • swelling in the legs and abdomen
  • enlargement of the spleen
  • malnutrition
  • buildup of toxins in the brain
  • jaundice
  • bone disease
  • permanent brain damage
  • hearing loss
  • fetal death

Procedures for Treatment of Encephalopathy

The following procedures are used to treat Encephalopathy:
  • Liver transplantation: To replace liver with a healthy liver
  • Deep brain stimulation: Implants a battery-operated medical device in the brain to deliver electrical stimulation

Self-care for Encephalopathy

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Encephalopathy:
  • Don't drink alcohol: Helps preventing further kidney damage
  • Eat a low-sodium diet: Helps limiting additional liver damage
  • Eat a healthy diet: Helps limiting additional liver damage

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Encephalopathy

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Encephalopathy:
  • Milk thistle (silymarin) herb supplements intake: Helps treating cirrhosis
  • Licorice root (glycyrrhiza), Schisandra and Astragalus herb supplements intake: Helps treating liver diseases

Patient Support for Treatment of Encephalopathy

The following actions may help Encephalopathy patients:
  • Join Support groups: Helps in coping with the disease by avoiding drinking alcohol

Time for Treatment of Encephalopathy

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Encephalopathy to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 6 months - 1 year

Last updated date

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