While the idea of your child or loved one getting encephalitis is a very scary prospect, chances that one will contract the disease are very slight. Since it is an inflammation of the tissues in the brain, encephalitis can have fast and devastating consequences. When young children contract encephalitis, it is typically caused by a virus. Other factors that put children and older patients at risk include an immune system weakened by another disease, certain types of insect bites, or the presence of herpes simplex virus. It is important to observe and monitor unusual symptoms for the possibility that encephalitis may be the culprit. Unattended, it can cause cause severe discomfort, coma and even death. A person who recovers from encephalitis may have ongoing problems with fatigue, reduced hearing and vision capabilities, weakness, and the possibility of experiencing mood disorders.
In early history, a severe inflammation of the brain was an almost certain indication that the patient would die soon. Modern medicine has increased the ability to both diagnose encephalitis and treat it so that the patient may recover with the minimum of after-effects. Although it may seem scary at the time, a key method that confirms the encephalitis diagnosis in a spinal tap. In this process, also called a lumbar puncture, fluid is drawn from the spinal column and tested for the presence of causative agents. This informs medical personnel about the most effective treatments to administer promptly for best results. Advances in anti-viral medication have also provided access to strong drugs when an aggressive treatment plan is indicated. Anti-inflammatories, advances in breathing support and drugs that help control the convulsions that can occur during a bout of encephalitis may be incorporated into the overall treatment of encephalitis in a modern hospital.
Because encephalitis can have rapid onset and a negative impact on long-term health, it is important that parents and caregivers become familiar with the symptoms. Do not be afraid to contact a doctor when these symptoms occur. Your prompt attention may save a child's life and increase the potential for positive outcome after treatment and supportive care.
An elevated temperature, headache and general sense of weakness and feeling bad are indicators to be on the lookout for more severe symptoms. If the person complains of stiffness in the neck while they have a high fever, your next best move is to call the doctors office or hospital. Vomiting may accompany the onset of encephalitis. Since throwing up may also be a sign of the flu, some cases of encephalitis may be missed.
Keep a close eye on the sick person to see if they show signs of disorientation. Ask questions to ascertain if the person is aware of his surroundings and see if you can detect any signs that hallucinations may be occurring. Brain inflammation may result in memory loss, so make your questions very clear and pointed rather than open-ended. In extreme cases of encephalitis, symptoms may include stiffness of the body, drifting into a coma and crying accompanied by personality changes.
Tips and comments
While emergency medical care may be required as soon as you become aware of the symptoms of encephalitis, the prognosis for recovery is generally good for mild cases. Treatment for milder conditions includes plenty of bed rest and fluids.
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