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:
- Aches in muscles or joints
Sometimes virulent symptoms of encephalitis might include:
- Erratic hallucinations
- Loss of sensation
- Muscle fatigue
Signs and symptoms for infants and young children include:
- Body stiffness
- Poor feeding
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.
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.
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.
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:
Certain drugs are prescribed to patients during bed rest. Anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve headaches and fevers — acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.
Encephalitis caused by some viruses requires antiviral treatment. Antiviral medications mentioned below are used for the treatments of encephalitis.
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
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
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.