What is encephalitis (Inflammation in the Brain)
Brain inflammation or encephalitis is an extraordinary but serious condition in which brain swelling begins. Most cases of this condition are either due to viral infections or occur when the immune system begins to attack the brain tissue extraordinarily.
Encephalitis often causes mild flu-like symptoms, such as fever or headache or no symptoms at all. Sometimes flu-like symptoms become very severe. Brain inflammation can also lead to epileptic seizures, confused thinking, or movement or sensory problems, etc.
To check for the swelling in the brain, the doctor will detect your symptoms and tell you about any new symptoms. You will also be asked about the condition of the disease or virus. The test may require blood tests and some imaging tests for the brain.
Brain inflammation has occurred in so few yet severe cases that it can be fatal for life. If you are experiencing symptoms of encephalitis, you should immediately go to the doctor. In some severe cases, the patient may have to be hospitalized.
Treatment includes oral medicines and intravenous medicines that help reduce inflammation and irritation and treat infections. Patients who have trouble breathing are given artificial respiration. Some people may require physical, speech, and occupational therapy after the illness is cured.??
Types of Encephalitis
What is the type of encephalitis?
There are mainly two types of encephalitis:
This occurs when the virus directly affects the brain or spinal cord.
- This is when the infection occurs in another part of the body and then spreads to the brain.
- It is also classified according to the reason:
- Different types of encephalitis may have different causes.
- Mosquitoes spread Japanese encephalitis.
- Ticks spread Tick-borne encephalitis.
- Rabies is spread by the bite of a dog or any other animal.
Symptoms of Encephalitis
What symptoms are felt in encephalitis?
Most people with viral encephalitis experience mild flu-like symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Fatigue or weakness
Sometimes it also causes some serious symptoms like:
- Confusion, commotion, excitement or hallucinations
- Inability to feel parts of the body or paralysis in some parts
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble speaking and hearing
- Lack of consciousness (unconsciousness)
Infants and adolescents may also include the following signs and symptoms:
- The bulge in a soft spot above the baby’s skull
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiffness in body
- Not eating correctly or waking up not eating
When should the doctor see?
If you are experiencing some severe symptoms related to encephalitis, get help from a doctor immediately. Severe headaches, fever, and any change in consciousness or sensation, etc. require immediate medical advice.
If infants and adolescents are experiencing symptoms of encephalitis, take them to the doctor immediately.?
What are the causes of inflammation in the brain?
Encephalitis can develop as a result of direct infection by a virus, bacteria, or fungus in the brain. Also, when the immune system reacts to an infection, the immune system accidentally attacks the brain tissue, which can also cause encephalitis.
Primary encephalitis can be divided into three main categories of viruses:
These include herpes simplex virus (HSV) and Epstein Barr virus (EBV) etc.
This includes measles and Mumps.
Arbovirus (a virus spread by mosquitoes and other insects)
This includes Japanese encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis, etc.
This type of brain inflammation can develop due to a viral infection. After the onset of disease, it may take days to weeks to show symptoms.
In this, the patient’s immune system starts to behave and attack the healthy tissues of the brain like external organisms (virus-bacteria, etc.). However, it is not yet known why the immune system does this with healthy tissues.
Why is there an increased risk of inflammation in the brain?
The following conditions increase the chances of causing encephalitis:
Some types of encephalitis are more frequent and severe in some age groups. Adolescents and older persons, in general, are at higher risk of having some viral encephalitis.
- People whose immune system is very weak.
- People who have HIV-AIDS or any other disease that suppresses their immune system are at high risk of developing encephalitis.
- Those people who live in areas where mosquitoes and other pests that spread this specific virus are common.
Mosquito-borne diseases become more common during summer.?
Prevention of Encephalitis
How is encephalitis prevented?
Many types of common childhood diseases can be prevented to a great extent, with the help of immunization. Therefore the schedule of vaccination given by the child’s doctor should be followed:
- Treating smallpox and getting vaccinated against mumps, measles, and rubella virus can also reduce the chances of encephalitis.
- Children should be kept away from contact with people who already have encephalitis.
- One must practice maintaining proper hygiene. Especially after using the toilet & before eating food should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Do not share utensils kept on the table and food with anyone, nor share your beverages with others.
In areas where encephalitis spreads through insect bites and especially mosquito bites, you should keep the following things in mind:
- Avoid getting out in the morning and evening (or at a time when mosquitoes are more active)
- Wear protective clothing such as full-sleeved and full-legged clothing.
- Use mosquito repellent cream or ointment etc.
- Also, water-filled in the water sources around your house, bucket, bouquets, and cooler tank, etc. should be removed as mosquitoes breed in water.
To avoid insect bites etc.
- Do not come in contact with soil, leaves, and vegetation, etc.
- While going out, wear full-sleeved and full-legged and light-colored clothes.
- Repeatedly checking for sticking pests in their children and pets.
Diagnosis of Encephalitis
How is inflammation in the brain tested?
?To test this condition, the doctor will check your symptoms and ask you if you have recently had a virus-related disease (viral infection, etc.). With the help of symptoms alone, often, a complete distinction between many diseases such as encephalitis cannot be explained.
Therefore, doctors perform different types of tests, including:
Spinal Tap (Waist Piercing)
A brain scan (CT scan or MRI scan)
Some types of viruses affect certain areas of the brain. With the help of brain scans, to see which part of the brain has been affected, it helps to determine which virus is present in the brain.
The electrodes used in this test are small discs of metal attached to wires. These electrodes are placed on the skull to record brain movements. The EEG test does not detect encephalitis-causing viruses. But some patterns of the EEG test may indicate an infectious source of your symptoms to the neurologist.
A blood test indicates signs and symptoms of viral infection. Blood tests alone are rarely performed to check for encephalitis. It is commonly used with other tests.
In this test, your doctor extracts a small sample from the brain tissue to check for infection. This process is rarely used because it carries a very high risk of developing complications.
Sometimes, due to the patient’s poor condition (eg, patient agitation), some types of tests are not done immediately. Nevertheless, it is necessary that the situation is tested as soon as possible, as immediate testing improves the outcome of the disease.
What is the treatment of encephalitis in the brain?
Encephalitis requires treatment in the hospital. The sooner its treatment starts, the higher its chances of succeeding:
People with encephalitis need medical care in a calm environment. General care includes close monitoring and analgesics for headaches. Fans, lukewarm water strip or medicines, etc. are used to reduce fever.
Those who develop severe symptoms may require intensive care units (intensive care) in treatment. During treatment, patients can be given help to breathe (with the help of oxygen mask) and food (with drip).
Treatments depend on internal causes, but may include:
- Antiviral drugs
- Steroid injection
- Medications that help control the immune system
- Antibiotic or anti-fungal medicines
- Analgesics to relieve fever or another physical discomfort
- Epilepsy control drugs
Receiving oxygen with the help of a breathing mask or breathing machine – ventilator.
Patients with brain swelling may have to stay in the hospital for a few days to a few weeks and even a few months.
Swelling and redness in the brain can last from a few days to two or three months. After this, in most people, their symptoms improve within two to three months.?
Encephalitis Risks & Complications
What problems can start with encephalitis?
Feeling tired after a severe illness is a fairly common condition, and most people find that they need to rest a lot during recovery (a recovery process after recovering from illness). In this way, it is better to start daily activities by taking time and patience.
Most people with severe encephalitis develop many other problems. Problems caused by encephalitis may include:
- Memory loss
- Change in behavior or personality
- Physical weakness
- Intellectual disability
- Decreased muscle coordination
- Vision problems
- Hearing problem
- Speaking problem
- Shortness of breath
- In rare cases, coma
The following groups of people are more likely to develop complications:
- Older adults.
- People who have or have still had coma-like symptoms before.
- People who do not get treatment immediately.
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