Encephalitis occurs when there is irritation or swelling of the brain. It can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. This condition is more common in very young children and the elderly. The severity of the disease is determined by the symptoms that are present and the result of testing to determine the extent of the infection. Treatment for encephalitis can vary based on the severity of the infection and the type of infection present (viral or bacterial).
The treatment of general encephalitis is to treat the prevailing symptoms. This can be as simple as providing fluids to the affected individual. The immediate care can include; anti-inflammatory drugs, antiviral drugs (if a viral infection), antibiotics (if a bacterial infection), steroids, sedatives and anti-seizure medicine. Each of these treatments is evaluated by the intensity of the case. There is blood work required in order to ascertain if the infection is likely bacterial or viral. While anti-viral drugs are aggressively given to patients, there is no guarantee that the anti-viral medications will destroy the attacking virus.
The outcome of an infection with encephalitis varies on the severity. A mild case will warrant rest, some medication and time. This is usually a three to five day period. Encephalitis is often mistaken for a bad case of influenza. As a result, most individuals recover with few repercussions or side effects as a result of the primary encephalitis infection.
In some cases the infection is severe. If invasive treatments are given and the individual has required hospitalization, it is likely there will be some effects on the individual. It also appears that the prognosis can vary upon the age of the individual. Those under the age of twelve months and adult over the age of fifty-five have worse outcomes than others statistically. There can also be underlying effects of the treatments that are given. Steroids can cause further lowering of the immune defenses for a long time after treatment.
As encephalitis causes brain swelling, damage to the brain is possible in very severe cases. The extent of the damage and the location of the brain determine the effects that are seen in the patient. This can range from speech impairments, personality changes, vision or hearing changes, memory issues and muscle control. Individuals with motor or physical impairments may gain relief from physical therapy. This may help them to regain some function of the affected areas.