Dealing with Encephalitis

Encephalitis is when parts of the brain tissue become inflamed. It can be a life threatening problem. In the UK it is quite rare thanks to the MMR vaccine, which has significantly reduced the risk to children. Encephalitis can affect at any age but the elderly and the young are considered to be at higher risk.

This is because people in these age groups often have lower immunity, and it Encephalitis is usually caused by infection. Measles, mumps and rubella used to be a cause of Encephalitis in children and that's why the MMR has been effective in the fight against it.

There are other kinds of Encephalitis too, including Japanese Encephalitis and tick-borne Encephalitis. These are not a worry in the UK but if you are travelling to affected countries you should talk to your GP about getting the vaccine.

There are several noticeable symptoms in the early stages of teh disease. It starts with flu-like symptoms, inlcuding a sore head, fever and feeling sick. After this more serious symptoms begin to show, like confusion, seizures, changes in behaviour, hallucinations, involuntary movements and paranoia.

The NHS say that if a person’s flu symptoms get worse quickly and you notice a change in their behaviour, it should be treated as an emergency and you should dial 999.

Brain scans and lumbar punctures are used to diagnose Encephalitis and it's important to get diagnosed as early as possible in order to avoid any complications. Most people make a full recovery from Encephalitis, but your chances are best if you get checked out as early as possible.

If Encephalitis is not caught early, complications can include memory loss, speech problems, epilepsy, mood swings and fatigue. There is still quite a lot that medical professionals don't yet know about Encephalitis, and treatment is constantly developing and evolving. It can range from anti-viral medication to corticosteroids, immunoglobulin therapy and plasmapharesis. Feeding tubes are often used to provide nutrition and help to keep the body hydrated.

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