Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain.
What is going on in the body?
Encephalitis is usually caused by a viral infection of the braintissue. The infection can also be caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites.These tiny organisms can enter the brain tissue by any of the following routes:
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Most cases of encephalitis are caused by a viral infection of thebrain tissue. Viruses that commonly cause encephalitis include the following:
Bacteria that can cause encephalitis include the following:
Other less-common causes of encephalitis include the following:
People at high risk for encephalitis include those whose age is very young orvery old, and those who have compromised immune systems.
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Symptoms of encephalitis include the following:
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the condition diagnosed?
Diagnosis of encephalitis begins with a medical history andphysical examination. A spinal tap may be done to obtain a sample of thefluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. The doctor mayorder other tests, including:
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the condition?
There are a few ways to prevent encephalitis.Diseases such as polio and measles can be prevented by vaccination.Avoiding ticks and controlling mosquitoes can help prevent the illnessescarried by them. Certain antibiotics, like chloroquine, can help prevent malaria.
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
Brain damage is a possible long-term effect of encephalitis.Some individuals will have permanent disability.
What are the risks to others?
Some of the organisms that cause encephalitis can spreadfrom person to person.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the condition?
Treatment options vary, depending on what causesthe encephalitis. Medicines used to treat encephalitis include the following:
People who develop severe and permanent disabilities may bereferred to a rehabilitation program once their condition is stable.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Many of the medicines used to treat encephalitis may causestomach upset or allergic reactions.Anticonvulsants may cause drowsiness.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Some people with encephalitis have a mild infection thatresolves with effective treatment. Others may have a serious infectionleading to permanent disability or death.
How is the condition monitored?
Regular visits to the doctor will be used tomonitor recovery from encephalitis. Any new or worsening symptomsshould be reported to the doctor.
Article type: xmedgeneral