Encephalitis: Symptoms, Types, Risk Factors, Causes & Treatments

Tanuja Bisht

, Treatments

Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain. Several cases of the disease are caused by either a viral infection or the immune system falsely attacking brain tissue.


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What is Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is mainly defined as the inflammation in the brain which means the disease is different from meningitis that is an inflammation of the layers of membranes or tissue covering the brain.


Sadly, in some people, both of the diseases can coexist which lead to more complex treatment and diagnosis plan. Both the conditions have several symptoms.


There are many causes of the disease such as viruses, parasites, bacteria, chemicals, and even autoimmune reactions.


Some Facts Related to Encephalitis:

  • The disease has symptoms like fever, headache, and photophobia.
  • It is rarely a life-threatening disease.
  • Most often the disease affects children, older adults, and people with weak immune systems.
  • Antiviral medications can help in treating it.
  • Complications of the disease can include memory loss and epilepsy.




What are the Symptoms of Encephalitis?

There are several symptoms of the disease including;

  • A headache
  • Fever
  • Aches in muscles or joints
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Confusion, agitation or hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Loss of sensation or paralysis in certain areas of the face or body
  • Problems with speech or hearing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Slower movements
  • Coma
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to light




What are the Types of Encephalitis?

Different factors cause different types of the disease including;

  • Japanese encephalitis is due to mosquitoes.
  • Tick-borne encephalitis is due to ticks.
  • Rabies can be due to a bite from a mammal.

There is also a type of primary or secondary of disease in which;

The primary or infectious the disease is due to infection through fungus, bacterium, or virus in the brain.

The secondary, or post-infectious, the disease occurs when the immune system weak and the infection mistakenly attacks the brain.



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What are the Risk Factors of Encephalitis?

Following are some of the risk factors that increase the risk of the disease including;

  • Age
  • Weakened immune system
  • Geographical regions ( where mosquito- or tick-borne viruses are common)
  • Season of the year (when mosquito- and tick-borne diseases tend to be more common)




What are the Causes of Encephalitis?

There are many causes that spread the disease including;

  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Other herpes viruses like Epstein-Barr virus
  • Enteroviruses
  • Mosquito-borne viruses
  • Tick-borne viruses
  • Rabies virus
  • Childhood infections




What are the Treatments for Encephalitis?

Anti-viral medicines can help in treating the disease. However, these medicines aren’t enough effective in treating the other forms of the disease. Alternatively, the treatment often focuses on relieving symptoms including;

  • Rest
  • Painkillers
  • Corticosteroids (to reduce brain inflammation)
  • Mechanical ventilation (to help with breathing)
  • Lukewarm sponge baths
  • Sedatives (for restlessness, aggressiveness, and irritability)
  • Anticonvulsants (to prevent or stop seizures)
  • Fluids





Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain which can be easily treated with the help of anti-viral medicines as well as with proper rest and health check-up.



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