Types of Encephalitis

Types of Encephalitis

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain that is often caused by a viral infection. This infection often causes only mild flu-like signs and symptoms or no symptoms at all. Sometimes the flu-like symptoms are more severe. Encephalitis can also cause seizures, confused thinking, or problems with movement. In some cases, this infection can be life-threatening. 


Causes and Symptoms of Encephalitis

The most common causes of Encephalitis may include:

  • Viral infections: Encephalitis may be caused by the common viruses that cause chickenpox or cold sores that spread to the brain. 
  • Bacterial or fungal infections: These are a rare cause of encephalitis than viral infection. 
  • A problem with the immune system: Sometimes something goes wrong with the immune system and it mistakenly attacks the brain which causes it to be inflamed. 

Different Types of Encephalitis

1. Epidemic Encephalitis 

Enterovirus can enter your gastrointestinal tract or respiratory system and cause infection which may travel to the central nervous system. As a result, it may cause the death of neurons. On the other hand, arboviruses enter your bloodstream when an infected insect bites you. The symptom of this infection may include light sensitivity and extreme weakness. 

2. Sporadic Encephalitis

Childhood is the most common time to contract Herpes simplex type 1 and type 2. The disease is characterized by sporadic encephalitis and occurs most often in people aged 20 to 40. People who suffer from this infection have similar symptoms to those of other forms of encephalitis, but they can also be unconscious.

3. Autoimmune Encephalitis

This is a noninfectious type of encephalitis. It can be a cause of an autoimmune disorder that has been triggered by an infection. 

NMDA-receptor encephalitis is the most common type of autoimmune encephalitis. It is the early stages of a viral illness. 

Encephalitis Diagnosis

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Your healthcare provider might order tests, perform a medical exam, and discuss your medical history to diagnose encephalitis. Your doctor may ask about your vaccinations, recent colds, or other gastrointestinal or respiratory issues. You should tell your doctor if you have recently been bitten by a tick, if you have been around pets or other animals, and if you have traveled to certain places.

Tests for Encephalitis include:

  • A lumbar puncture to check for signs of infection in the brain or spinal cord 
  • Neuroimaging 
  • Blood tests or urine and stool tests to identify organisms or antibodies responsible for an infection 
  • Electroencephalogram to look for seizures 

Encephalitis Treatment 

Encephalitis treatment depends on the underlying cause and symptoms, and may include:

  • Antibiotics to address underlying bacterial infections that cause the infection 
  • Antiviral medications to fight viral infections that affect the brain
  • Medications or other therapies to control seizures
  • Immunotherapy such as intravenous antibodies, steroids, or plasma exchange. It is to address certain types of autoimmune encephalitis
  • A breathing tube, urinary catheter, or feeding tube may be necessary if the person’s encephalitis has caused loss of consciousness  

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Types of Encephalitis