Encephalitis- Risk factors, causes, and treatments

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Encephalitis is nothing but inflammation caused in the brain. Viral infection is the vital reason for the cause of Encephalitis.

Encephalitis often causes mild-flu related signs and symptoms such as fever, headache and sometimes does not show any symptoms at all. These symptoms are also referred to as mind flu. Encephalitis also causes perplexed thinking, seizures, or problems associated with the eyes or ears.

Encephalitis can be a life-threatening disorder if not diagnosed earlier. If timely diagnosis and treatment are not done then it may lead to severe complications in the future.

Symptoms for Encephalitis

Most people with encephalitis may face some of the mind flu symptoms like:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Aches in muscles or joints
  • Fatigue
  • weakness

Sometimes virulent symptoms of encephalitis might include:

  • Confusion
  • Erratic hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Loss of sensation
  • Paralysis
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Coma

Signs and symptoms for infants and young children include:

  • Nausea
  • vomiting
  • Body stiffness
  • Poor feeding
  • Irritability

Causes of Encephalitis

The precise reason for the cause of encephalitis is unknown. Viral infection is a typical cause of encephalitis. Bacterial infections can also cause encephalitis.

The two main commonly known types of encephalitis include:

Primary encephalitis. This condition arises when a virus directly attacks the brain.

Secondary encephalitis. This condition is due to the fragile immune system that causes some infections in the body. This also affects the healthy cells along with the infectious cells. This occurs three weeks after the initial infection. This is also known as post-infection encephalitis or secondary encephalitis.

Other viral causes

Herpes viruses. This virus consists of the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes infectious mononucleosis.

Varicella-zoster virus. This causes chickenpox and shingles.

Enteroviruses. These viruses usually cause illness with flu-like symptoms, eye inflammation, and abdominal pain.

Rabies virus. Infection with the rabies virus, which is usually transmitted by a bite causes a rapid progression to encephalitis.

Childhood infections. Infections like measles, mumps, and German measles used to be fairly common causes of secondary encephalitis.

What are the factors that increase the risk of Encephalitis?

Factors that increase encephalitis include:

Age. In general, young children and older adults are more prone to viral encephalitis.

Weakened immune system. People who have HIV/AIDS are at increased risk of encephalitis.

Complications

Encephalitis complications vary depending on the following factors:

  • Your age
  • Cause of infection
  • severity of the illness

People with mild illness recover within a few weeks with zero complications.

Prevention

The best way to prevent viral encephalitis is to take necessary precautions to safeguard from the virus.

Practice good hygiene. Make sure to wash your hands before and after using the bathroom.

Avoid sharing other utensils

Teach good habits. Make sure children practice good habits.

How to diagnose Encephalitis?

Diagnosing Encephalitis can be done in the following ways:

Brain imaging. MRI and CT images unveil the swelling of the brain and cause symptoms like a tumor.

Other lab tests. Samples of blood or excretions from the throat can be tested for viruses.

Electroencephalogram (EEG). Electrodes are placed in your brain to determine the electrical activity of the brain.

Brain biopsy. A part of brain tissue is taken for testing. A brain biopsy is considered only under critical conditions where the original diagnosis results are unclear.

Treatments for Encephalitis

Mild Encephalitis require the following treatments:

Bed rest

Certain drugs are prescribed to patients during bed rest. Anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve headaches and fevers — acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.

Antiviral drugs

Encephalitis caused by some viruses requires antiviral treatment. Antiviral medications mentioned below are used for the treatments of encephalitis.

  • Acyclovir
  • Ganciclovir
  • Foscarnet

Some viruses including insect-borne viruses do not comply with these treatments. Antiviral drugs are well tolerated. Rarely, side effects include kidney damage.

Assistance provided for severe Encephalitis include:

  • Breathing assistance
  • Ensure proper hydration and levels of vital minerals
  • Corticosteroids – to reduce swelling and pressure inside the skull
  • Phenytoin – to stop or prevent seizures

Alternate therapy

Complications of encephalitis need additional therapy, such as:

  • Physical therapy – to increase strength, flexibility, balance, and mobility
  • Occupational therapy – Use adaptive products that help you in daily activities
  • Psychotherapy – to learn behavioral skills to improve mood disorders and personality changes

Summing up

Illness related to encephalitis is usually severe and swift. Seek emergency care for fast treatment. The emergency care team includes a neurologist and people who are specialized in treating brain disorders.


DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG/WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE

The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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