What Is Encephalitis (Brain Inflammation)?
Encephalitis is a serious disease that can even lead to death.
Although possible causes vary, it is a rare infectious disease.
Encephalitis can occur in individuals of all ages and is usually caused by viruses.
Therefore, weakening of the immune system and worsening of hygienic conditions may cause encephalitis.
It is possible to pause the physical symptoms of encephalitis, which can manifest itself with various symptoms, with drug treatments.
However, if left untreated, the effects on the brain may worsen over time, worsening the course of the disease.
Deterioration of brain functions over time is also among the expected symptoms.
Therefore, after the diagnosis of the disease, the treatment plan should be determined and started as soon as possible.
If treated in the early period, it may be possible for the patient to regain his health.
Encephalitis should not be confused with meningitis, which is an inflammation of the meninges.
Because in meningitis, there is inflammation in the brain membrane, while in encephalitis, the area where inflammation develops is the brain tissue.
Early diagnosis and treatment in encephalitis have a key role in the effects of the disease on the person.
For this reason, it is useful to be informed about the symptoms of the disease and to undergo an examination immediately if the symptoms are seen.
What Will We Learn?
What Are The Symptoms Of Encephalitis?
In some cases, signs of encephalitis are similar to those of a cold, such as fever and headache.
More serious symptoms than this coincide with later periods.
Physical and neurological symptoms are among the characteristic signs of the disease.
- High fever,
- Long-term headaches,
- Joint pain that may occur in any part of the body,
- Weakening of the muscles,
- neck stiffness
It occurs as physical manifestation of encephalitis. Neurological symptoms are mostly manifested as follows:
- Behavioral disorders and changes
- Confusion of mind
- Difficulty speaking or moving
- Occasional loss of consciousness
- Difficulty recalling near or distant memories
- Light sensitivity
- Sensitivity to sounds
- Double vision
The symptoms of encephalitis include a number of processes that start very simple but become serious and increase in severity.
For this reason, it is necessary to take the cold and flu-like symptoms seriously and be examined as soon as possible.
Thus, it is possible to diagnose the disease in the earliest way.
What Are The Causes Of Encephalitis?
Encephalitis is one of the diseases whose exact cause is unknown.
Autoimmune inflammation, viral or bacterial infections, and non-infectious inflammatory conditions all have the potential to cause encephalitis.
People of all ages are likely to have encephalitis.
However, the existence of factors that may increase the risk is also known.
In particular, certain types of encephalitis are more common in certain age groups.
Young children and older adults are more likely to be affected by viral encephalitis types.
Patients with HIV and AIDS, individuals taking immunosuppressive drugs for any reason, and patients with other diseases that cause a weakened immune system are more likely to have encephalitis.
Mosquitoes and ticks living in some geographies may also pose a risk.
Since such creatures emerge in the hot months of summer, the summer season is also considered among the risk factors.
Herpes simplex and herpes varicella viruses, which cause cold sores or chickenpox that spread to the brain, are known to cause encephalitis.
On the other hand, bacterial or fungal infections are among the rarer causes besides viral infections.
What Are The Types Of Encephalitis Disease?
Encephalitis basically occurs in two different ways.
One of them is called “Infectious Encephalitis”.
Encephalitis due to microbes, which was the most common cause of encephalitis in the past, has decreased today.
Because vaccines for diseases such as mumps, measles, chicken pox and rubella have made the occurrence of these diseases rare, and accordingly brain involvement.
However, other viruses can cause brain inflammation.
The viruses that cause infectious encephalitis are listed below:
- West Nile virus
- Japanese encephalitis virus
- La Crosse virus
- St. Louis virus
- Powassan virus
- Argentina virus
- Chikungunya virus
Another type is called “Autoimmune Encephalitis”.
It occurs when an individual’s own immune system and antibodies attack the brain.
Antibodies can target specific proteins or receptors in the brain that determine the type of autoimmune encephalitis.
Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis occurs when the immune system targets NMDA receptors in the brain.
In VGKC complex antibody encephalitis, the immune system targets the VGKC brain protein complex, which includes LGI-1 and CASPR2 subtypes.
GABA-A and GABA-B receptors can also be targeted by antibodies.
Thus, the emergence of different types of encephalitis is possible.
How Is Encephalitis Diagnosed?
In addition to symptoms such as fever and headache that can be seen in influenza infection, mental confusion and changes in movements include encephalitis symptoms, so some evaluations should be made.
Early diagnosis and treatment is very important as it can cause serious health problems and even death.
Therefore, it is necessary to start the examination as soon as possible.
At the beginning of the medical examination, the specialist is likely to question the patient’s medical history.
Medical history includes questioning of vaccination status, respiratory diseases and gastrointestinal diseases.
Contact with pets or stray animals should also be questioned.
In addition, it is also questioned whether there has been a recent exposure to a tick bite.
Travel history is also important to the specialist, as viruses present in some countries can also cause illness.
Imaging techniques such as a brain MRI or CT scan may be used.
Lumbar puncture can be applied to detect signs of infection in the spinal cord or brain.
EEG is also among the tests applied to evaluate electrical activities or seizures in the brain.
In addition, blood, urine and stool tests are also requested from the patient to see the infection status.
Sputum culture can be taken to detect some infections.
In very rare cases, a brain biopsy may be required to examine the brain tissue.
Brain pressure is measured to detect brain swelling with the ICP method.
After all tests, it is possible to make a proper diagnosis.
With the correct diagnosis, it is necessary to start treatment quickly.
What Are Encephalitis Treatment Methods?
The most effective method of treating encephalitis is to detect and treat the underlying cause as early as possible.
Therefore, it may be possible for many specialist doctors to work together.
Because the disease can occur in many ways.
Encephalitis patients need to stay in hospital for treatment.
Thus, instant developments in the body are detected in the most effective way.
There are many treatment options available, depending on the underlying cause and symptoms.
Antiviral drugs should be given to the patient for the treatment of viral infections affecting the brain.
Antibiotics are used to treat underlying bacterial infections.
Immunotherapy such as steroids, intravenous antibodies or plasma exchange may be used for the treatment of some types of autoimmune encephalitis.
In order to prevent seizures that may occur, some medications may be given to the patient.
In cases where encephalitis causes loss of consciousness in the patient, breathing tube, urinary catheter or feeding tube are used in the treatment.
If the drugs used to prevent seizures do not progress in a positive direction, ketogenic diets with high fat and low carbohydrate ratios can be used.
The most effective treatment method, as with any disease, is to take precautions.
It is very effective to get vaccinated, especially when traveling to countries where viruses known to cause encephalitis are effective.
It will also be beneficial to pay attention to hygiene rules in order to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
In addition, protection from dangerous animals such as mosquitoes and ticks is another measure.
If you also want to lead a healthy life and want to be protected from diseases, you can apply to the nearest health institution when you suspect the symptoms of encephalitis.
Thus, in a possible disease, you can regain your health thanks to early diagnosis and treatment.
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