Overview of Encephalitis | Treatment Options | Neurology


What is Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. There are several causes, but the most common one is a viral infection. Encephalitis frequently inceptions mild, flu-like signs and symptoms – such as a fever or headache – or no evidence at all. Sometimes the flu-like symptoms are more severe.

Encephalitis can also cause confusion in thinking, seizures, or problems with movement or with sensory organs such as vision or hearing. In some cases, encephalitis can be life-threatening. Timely identification and treatment are crucial because it is challenging to pretend how encephalitis will impact everyone.

Types of encephalitis

Different types of encephalitis have different causes.

  • Japanese encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes
  • Tick-borne encephalitis is spread by ticks
  • Rabies can be spread through a chomp from a vertebrate

There is also primary or secondary encephalitis.

  • Primary or infectious encephalitis can occur if fungi, viruses, or bacteria infect the brain.
  • Secondary or postinfectious encephalitis happens when the immune system reacts to a former infection and erroneously affliction the brain.

Symptoms of encephalitis

The patient normally has a fever, headache, and photophobia (unreasonable sensitivity to light). There may also be general weakness and seizures.

Less common symptoms

An individual may also experience stiffness of the nucleus (stiff neck), which can lead to a misdiagnosis of meningitis. There may be stiffness in the limbs, slow movements, and clumsiness. The patient may also feel sleepy and cough.

More serious cases

In more thoughtful cases, a respective may encounter terrible headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation, memory loss, speech problems, hearing problems, hallucinations, just as seizures, and possibly coma. In some cases, the patient can become aggressive.

Signs and symptoms in infants

At first, encephalitis is difficult to detect in young children and infants. Parents or guardians should look for vomiting, bulging fontanel (the soft area at the top of the middle of the head), constant crying that does not improve when the baby is carried, rested, and stiff.

What causes encephalitis?

Many different viruses can cause encephalitis. It is helpful to classify the possible causes into three groups: common viruses, pseudoviruses, and arboviruses.

Common viruses

The most individual virus that justification encephalitis in formulated countries is herpes simplex. The herpes virus is usually transmitted through a nerve to the skin, where it causes a cold sore. In rare proceedings, all the same, the virus traveling to the brain.

This form of this disease unremarkably affects the temporal lobe, which is the part of the brain that standard memory and speech. It can also impact the frontal lobe, the part that standard emotions and behavior. Encephalitis origination by herpes is harmful and can track to severe brain damage and death.

Other common viruses that can cause this disease that may include:

  • Mumps
  • HIV
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus

Childhood viruses

Vaccines can forbid the immaturity viruses that used to inception inflammation of the brain. Therefore, these types of inflammation of the brain are rare today. It includes some childhood viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain:

  • Chickenpox (very rare)
  • Rubella
  • Measles


Arboviruses are viruses that are carried by insects. The type of virus transmitted by arthropods depends on the insect. Here are the different types of arboviruses:

  • California encephalitis (additionally called la crosse encephalitis) is sent by mosquito chomps and chiefly influences children. It causes not many or no symptoms.
  • Louis encephalitis occurs in rural areas of the Midwest and Southern states. It is generally a mild virus and causes few symptoms.
  • West Nile virus is regularly found in Africa and the Middle East. However, it can occur in the United States. It is usually relatively mild, causing flu-like symptoms. However, it can be fatal among the elderly and people with weak immune systems.
  • Colorado encephalitis (additionally called Colorado tick fever) is communicated by the female wood tick. It is usually a mild illness, and most people will recover quickly.
  • Eastern equine encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes. It affects both humans and horses. Albeit uncommon, it has a 33 percent death rate.
  • Kayasanur forest disease is transmitted by tick bites. People can also get it by drinking raw goat, sheep, or cow’s milk. Hunters, campers, and farmers are most vulnerable to this disease.

How is encephalitis diagnosed?

Doctors use several tests to diagnose this disease, including:

  • Imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to check the brain for swelling, bleeding, or other problems
  • An electroencephalogram (EEG), which records electrical signals in the brain, to check for unusual brain waves
  • Blood tests to search for microscopic organisms or infections in the blood. These can also show whether the body is making antibodies (specific proteins that fight infection) in response to a germ.
  • A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, which examines the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) for signs of infection

Risk factors

Anyone can develop this disease. Include factors that may increase the risk:

  • Age: Some types of inflammation of the brain are more common or more severe in some age groups. In general, young children and the elderly are more likely to have most types of viral encephalitis.
  • Weak immune system: People with HIV / AIDS, who take immunosuppressive drugs or have another condition that causes a weakened immune system, are more likely to develop inflammation of the brain.
  • Geographical regions: Viruses transmitted by mosquitos or ticks are common in certain geographical areas.
  • Season this year: Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks tend to be more common in the summer in many areas of the United States.

Encephalitis treatment

The way to enduring encephalitis is the early discovery and powerful treatment of the fundamental reason. A group of masters cooperating is a significant factor in ideal consideration.

Patients may need to stay in the intensive care unit so that health care providers can monitor for seizures, brain swelling, respiratory failure, or heart rhythm changes.

Treatment for inflammation of the brain depends on the cause and the underlying symptoms, and may include:

  • Antivirals fight viral infections that affect the brain.
  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections that cause inflammation of the brain.
  • Immunotherapy, such as steroids, intravenous (IVIg) antibodies, or plasma exchange, to treat certain types of autoimmune encephalitis.
  • Medicines or other treatments to control seizures.
  • A breathing tube, urinary catheter, or feeding tube might be important if it makes an individual lose consciousness.

Patients with inflammation of the brain who have seizures that do not respond well to anti-seizure medications can benefit from a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It has been effective in reducing seizures in drug-resistant epilepsy in children and adults, as well as in patients with autoimmune encephalitis such as NMDA receptor antagonist encephalitis.


It can last from a few days to two or three months. After that, most people find they recover better from their symptoms within two or three months. It is common to feel fatigued after a serious illness, and most people find that they need a lot of rest during their recovery and that it is helpful to gradually return to daily activities.

Some people experience long-term effects of inflammation of the brain. Long haul indications can incorporate physical issues, memory issues, character changes, discourse issues, and epilepsy. Depending on your individual situation, you may benefit from physical therapy to help with physical problems or speech and language therapy to help with speech problems. Long haul indications can incorporate physical issues, memory issues, character changes, discourse issues, and epilepsy. Many people find these services an important part of long-term recovery and rehabilitation.

Complications of encephalitis

The majority of patients with inflammation of the brain have at least one complication, especially elderly patients, those who develop symptoms of coma, and individuals who did not receive treatment at an early stage.

Complications may include:

  • Memory loss – especially among people with HSV encephalitis
  • Behavioral or personality changes – such as mood swings, outbursts of frustration, anger, and anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Aphasia – language and speech problems

How can I prevent encephalitis?

Significant progress has already been made in preventing some causes of inflammation of the brain.

The elimination of smallpox and the use of vaccines against mumps, measles, and rubella reduced the incidence of inflammation of the brain, especially in children. Vaccines have been developed for people traveling to high-risk areas as well.

Other ways to prevent it are to avoid viruses that can lead to disease (such as herpes) and protect yourself from mosquito and tick bites.

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