Encephalitis can be referred to as the inflammation of brain. The inflammation causes the brain to swell, which further leads to variation in neurological function, resulting in mental confusion and seizures.
What causes Encephalitis?
The cause of encephalitis basically depends on the season, the country, and the kind of exposure. Viruses are one of the major leading causes of encephalitis.
Although vaccines for many viruses, including measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox have greatly reduced the rate of encephalitis from these diseases, other viruses can also cause encephalitis. These can include herpes simplex virus and rabies.
How is Encephalitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of encephalitis is performed after the sudden or gradual onset of specific symptoms and after diagnostic testing.
At the time of examining, your doctor will ask about your medical history, including what immunizations you’ve had before the test.
Your doctor would like to know if you recently had a cold or other respiratory illness, or a gastrointestinal illness, and if you recently had a tick bite, have been around pets or other animals, or have traveled to certain areas of the country.
Diagnostic tests that can be performed to confirm the diagnosis of encephalitis may include the following:
- CT Scan
- Blood Tests
- Urine & Stool Tests
- Sputum Culture
- Spinal Tap
- Brain Biopsy
What are the symptoms of Encephalitis?
At times, encephalitis follows a viral illness like an upper respiratory infection, or a gastrointestinal illness that can cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
The most common symptoms of encephalitis are listed below. However, each person may experience symptoms differently.
Symptoms may include:
- Mild flu-like symptoms (aches, fatigue, slight fever)
- Sensitivity to light
- Neck stiffness
- Sleepiness or lethargy
- Increased irritability
- Changes in alertness, confusion, or hallucinations
- Loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Unsteady gait
- Nausea and vomiting
In severe cases, symptoms can be:
- Weakness or partial paralysis in the arms and legs
- Double vision
- Impairment of speech or hearing
The symptoms of encephalitis can also resemble other problems or medical conditions. You have to always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
How is encephalitis treated?
Specific treatment for encephalitis will be taken by your doctor based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
Encephalitis can be easily cured with its early detection and treatment. Immediate hospitalization and close monitoring will be required for the person who is suffering from encephalitis.
The main aim of the treatment is to lower down the swelling in the head and to prevent other related complications. Medications to control the infection, seizures, fever, or other conditions may be used.