Encephalitis – causes, side effects and treatments at NaturalPedia.com

Thursday, March 15, 2018 by

Encephalitis refers to the acute inflammation or swelling of the brain. This swelling is often caused by a viral infection but sometimes, the body’s own immune system will attack the brain tissue by mistake.

The most common cause of encephalitis is a viral infection. A patient’s brain will become inflamed as the body tries to fight off the virus. At least one patient out of 1,000 with measles may develop encephalitis.

Encephalitis is rarely life-threatening and mortality depends on a number of factors such as the severity of the disease and age. Younger patients tend to recover faster without other ongoing health issues. However, older patients are at higher risk for complications and mortality.

Primary encephalitis occurs when there is a direct viral infection of the brain or spinal cord. Secondary encephalitis is an infection that began somewhere else in the body and then spreads to the brain.

Known side effects of encephalitis

The common side effects of encephalitis include:

  • Fever
  • General weakness
  • Headache
  • Photophobia/excessive sensitivity to light
  • Seizures

The more uncommon symptoms of the disease include:

  • Clumsiness
  • Cough
  • Drowsiness
  • Nuchal rigidity/neck stiffness – May cause a misdiagnosis of meningitis
  • Slow movements
  • Stiffness of the limbs

Serious cases of encephalitis may include these symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing problems
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Severe headaches
  • Speech problems
  • Vomiting

Encephalitis is harder to detect in babies and young children. Their symptoms may include:

  • Body stiffness
  • A bulging fontanel or the soft area on the top center of the head
  • Incessant crying (which doesn’t stop even when the baby is picked up and comforted)

Individuals most at risk of encephalitis are:

  • Children less than a year old
  • Older adults
  • People with weak immune systems

Individuals who live in areas with lots of mosquitoes and ticks are also at risk since these insects can carry viruses that cause encephalitis. The risk is greater during summer or fall when these insects are most active.

Body systems harmed by encephalitis

Some long-term problems may occur after encephalitis due to damage to the brain. These may include:

  • Emotional and psychological problems (e.g. anxiety, depression, and mood swings)
  • Epilepsy/repeated seizures (fits)
  • Memory problems
  • Persistent tiredness
  • Personality and behavioral changes
  • Problems with attention, concentration, planning, and problem-solving
  • Problems with balance, coordination, and movement
  • Problems swallowing
  • Speech and language problems

Food items or nutrients that may prevent encephalitis

The following foods and nutrients may help prevent encephalitis:

  • Alizarin — Alizarin can improve various herpes infections.
  • Astragalus/Milkvetch — Astragalus comes from the roots of Astragalus membranaceus or a related species that are native to China. In traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus is often used with other herbs to treat various ailments such as heart, liver, and kidney diseases. It is also used to treat cancer, viral infections, and immune system disorders.
  • Blessed thistle — Blessed thistle leaves, stems, and flowers have traditionally been used in “bitter” tonic drinks. It is also used in other oral preparations to enhance appetite and digestion.
  • Cranberry — A popular fruit, cranberry has antiviral properties.
  • Sorrel — Often used as a salad green, sorrel is also a spring tonic, diarrhea remedy, weak diuretic, and soothing agent for irritated nasal passages. It has also been used with other herbs to treat bronchitis and sinus conditions.

Treatments, management plans for encephalitis

Treatment for encephalitis focuses on relieving symptoms.

  • Acyclovir — Only a handful of reliable antiviral agents can address the symptoms of the disease, one of which is acyclovir. However, it is only effective for some infections, except when the condition is caused by herpes simplex.
  • Anticonvulsants — Can be given to patients who have seizures.
  • Corticosteroids — May be administered to minimize inflammation in the brain, such as during post-infectious (secondary) encephalitis. A person with severe symptoms may require mechanical ventilation to help them breathe along with other supportive treatment.
  • Sedatives — May help individuals who have seizures and those who experience restlessness and irritability.

Patients with mild symptoms may need rest, plenty of fluids, and Tylenol (paracetamol) for fever and headaches.

Where to learn more

Summary

Encephalitis refers to the acute inflammation or swelling of the brain. This swelling is often caused by a viral infection but sometimes, the body’s own immune system will attack the brain tissue by mistake.

Primary encephalitis occurs when there is a direct viral infection of the brain or spinal cord. Secondary encephalitis is an infection that began somewhere else in the body and then spreads to the brain.

The common side effects of encephalitis include fever, general weakness, headache, photophobia/excessive sensitivity to light, and seizures.

Individuals most at risk of encephalitis are children less than a year old, older adults, and people with weak immune systems.

Alizarin, astralgus, blessed thistle, cranberry, and sorrel can help prevent encephalitis or soothe its symptoms.

Treatment for encephalitis focuses on relieving symptoms. Options include acyclovir, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and sedatives.

Sources include

MedicalNewsToday.com

NHS.uk

SimplyGoodNaturalFoods.com



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