Treatment for Encephalitis
During an encephalitis attack, the brain becomes inflamed and swollen. This leads to changes in neurological function. People may experience confusion and seizures when their brain becomes inflamed. The cause of encephalitis depends on the season, the part of the country, and the type of exposure. Viruses are the leading cause of encephalitis.
By immunizing against certain viruses, such as measles, mumps, and chickenpox, the encephalitis rate from these diseases has been greatly reduced. But other viruses can also cause encephalitis. These include herpes simplex virus and rabies.
Symptoms of Encephalitis
- Headache and flu-like symptoms
- Slight fever and fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Increased irritability
- Loss of appetite and energy
- Unsteady gait or trouble in balancing
- Personality changes
- Nausea and vomiting
Seek immediate help from your doctor if you or a family member with encephalitis experience:
- Weakness or partial paralysis in the arms and legs
- Double vision
- Trouble or impairment of speech and hearing
Causes and Risk Factors of Encephalitis
The exact cause of encephalitis is often unknown but the typical trigger is a viral infection. Encephalitis can also be caused by bacterial infections or noninfectious inflammatory conditions. Anyone can develop encephalitis. Factors that may increase the risk include:
- Age. The incidence or severity of certain types of encephalitis differs by age. The risk of most types of viral encephalitis is greater for young children and aging adults.
- Weakened immune system. In people with HIV/AIDS, those who take immune-suppressing drugs, or those with other conditions that weaken the immune system, the risk of encephalitis is increased.
- Geographical regions. Viruses transmitted by mosquitoes or ticks are common in some parts of the world.
- Season of the year. Many areas of the United States are more susceptible to mosquito- and tick-borne diseases during the summer months.
How to Diagnose Encephalitis?
- Brain imaging. Images such as MRIs or CT scans can detect swelling in the brain or rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, for example, a tumor.
- Spinal tap. An infection or inflammation of the brain can be detected with this test. Sometimes samples of CSF can be tested to identify the virus or other infectious agent.
- Other lab tests. Tests for viruses or other infectious agents can be conducted on blood, urine, and excretions taken from the back of the throat.
- Electroencephalogram. Certain abnormal patterns may indicate a diagnosis of encephalitis.
- Brain biopsy. When symptoms worsen and treatments are ineffective, a brain biopsy is usually recommended.
Treatment for Encephalitis
- Supportive care
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Breathing assistance
- Intravenous fluids
Doctors may also recommend Antiviral drugs such as: