What is encephalitis?


Know the basics

What is encephalitis?

Encephalitis is the inflammation condition of the brain. It is mainly caused by viral infections. This is a serious health condition that can cause problems with language or memory and even death.

How common is encephalitis?

Encephalitis is not a common health condition. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune system are the most likely to experience this health condition. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of encephalitis?

The common symptoms of encephalitis are likely the same as ones of flu or stomach infection, they include:

  • Fever;
  • Slight headache;
  • Joint or muscle pain;
  • Tiredness and loss of sense of taste;
  • Mental changes such as confusion, drowsiness, disorientation;
  • Seizures;
  • Sudden changes in behavior and characteristic;
  • Loss of vision;
  • Difficulty in hearing or speaking;
  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Uncontrollable crying in infants.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes encephalitis?

There are many causes for encephalitis, such as:

  • Infections: viral infections may directly cause inflammation. Less commonly, encephalitis can be caused by bacterial, parasites infection.
  • Previous infection: the inflammation may return after the immune system reacts to the previous infection.
  • Autoimmune: when the immune system reacts to other causes like tumors, that can form inflammation.
  • Chronic condition like HIV can gradually develop inflammations.
  • Viruses include herpes simplex virus, enteroviruses, mosquito-borne viruses, tick-borne viruses or rabies virus.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for encephalitis?

There are many risk factors for encephalitis, such as:

  • Aging: young children and older adults are likely to have encephalitis. This condition also affects a certain group of people by age that are mostly from 20 to 40.
  • Weakened immune system: people with HIV/AIDS, or are using immune-restrain drugs can have a weakened immune system, increasing the risk of encephalitis.
  • Living in a condition with presence of mosquito-borne or tick-borne viruses put you in a higher risk of encephalitis.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is encephalitis diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask for your medical history and visible symptoms. Other diagnoses include:

  • Imaging tests include CT (computerized tomography) scans or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans are used to detect the brain inflammation and help the doctor remove other health conditions such as stroke, brain tumors.
  • Spinal fluid analysis is performed with a spinal tap to check for an increase of white blood cells and protein, bacteria or viruses.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) is done to measure the electric in brain.
  • Blood tests to identify the type of virus causing encephalitis.

How is encephalitis treated?

Treatments for encephalitis are mainly used to control the infections and long-term complications caused by fever from developing.

  • Medications, including:
    • Anti-inflammatory or anti-viral drugs can be used to ease the mild symptoms such as fever or headache. They can also prevent the acting of herpes simplex virus.
    • In some cases, corticosteroids may also be used to lower brain swelling.
    • If there is seizure, anticonvulsants may be prescribed by doctor.
  • Supportive therapies: your doctor can use some physical therapy or mental therapy to help you improve your overall health and control the infection as well as abilities to cope with encephalitis.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage encephalitis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with encephalitis:

  • Keep the body clean; remember to wash your hand regularly, especially before and after eating and after using toilet.
  • Do not share your personal utensils.
  • Remember to take vaccinations on schedule.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes and viral diseases such as dress long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use mosquito repellent, do not be outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

You might also like