Lybrate Logo
Get the App
For Doctors
Book Appointment
Ask a Question
Plan my Surgery
Health Feed
Health Feed
Find Doctors

Encephalitis: Symptoms, Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jul 15, 2022

What is the treatment?

Encephalitis is an inflammation of brain condition. The symptoms of this are very mild and flu-like i.e. fever, muscle or joint aches, fatigue or weakness and headache. If left untreated, encephalitis can cause confused thinking, seizures, problems with senses or movement, loss of memory, vision, speaking and hearing problems, breathing difficulties or lack of muscle coordination. The exact cause of encephalitis can sometimes be unknown but it is generally known to be caused by viral infection. It is generally cured by anti viral and anti inflammatory drugs.

What are the symptoms of Encephalitis?

Acute encephalitis leads to sudden onset of symptoms that worsen over days or weeks. Infectious encephalitis usually begins with flu-like symptoms or a headache and progresses to an altered mental state and difficulties in thinking, remembering, and reasoning.

The symptoms of encephalitis differ based on the location of the brain affected.

  • Physical Symptoms of Encephalitis include:
    • Headache
    • Disturbances of movement
    • Light sensitivity
    • Sound sensitivity
    • Seizures
    • Rigidity in the neck area
    • Insomnia
    • Fever
  • Severe symptoms of encephalitis include:
    • Coma
    • Partial paralysis
    • Difficulty in speaking and listening
    • Coma
    • Weakness
  • Cognitive symptoms include:
    • Irritation
    • Anxiety
    • Memory loss
    • Confusion
    • Disorientation
    • Excessive sleepiness
    • Psychosis
    • Hallucinations
    • Behavioral camps
  • Symptoms of Different Encephalitis Types:

    Symptoms of encephalitis that are induced by specific illnesses or autoimmune processes can be recognized.

    Seizures or other abnormal movements of the face or arm are associated with another kind of autoimmune encephalitis.

    The symptoms of encephalitis can be confused with those of other illnesses or medical conditions.

Summary: The severe symptoms of encephalitis include loss of sensation, confusion, weakness, difficulty in concentration, and problems in hearing and vision.

What causes Encephalitis?

There are mainly two causes of Encephalitis, i.e., either infection or due to a weak immune system.

  • Infection:

    Encephalitis can develop when an infection spreads to the brain. Many of the infections linked to the disease are rather common and usually mild. Encephalitis is a rare complication.

    The most common cause of encephalitis is a virus, such as:

    • Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex viruses (this is the most common cause of encephalitis).
    • chickenpox and shingles.
    • Viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella.
    • Tick-borne encephalitis and rabies are examples of viruses spread by animals (and possibly Zika virus).

    ""Viral encephalitis"" is encephalitis caused by a virus. Encephalitis can be caused by bacteria, fungus, or parasites in rare situations. These illnesses can be passed from person to person, but encephalitis does not transfer from person to person.

  • Due to a weak immune system:

    When bacteria enter the body, the immune system fights them off in order to prevent them from producing a major infection. However, on rare occasions, something goes wrong with the immune system and it targets the brain, resulting in encephalitis.

    This can lead to the following problems:

    • an infection in a different region of the body
    • development in the body that is either non-cancerous or cancerous
    • an immunization (this is very rare and the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risk of encephalitis)

    ""Post-infectious encephalitis"" is encephalitis caused by a reaction to a previous illness. It is called ""autoimmune encephalitis"" if it is caused by a tumor or if the reason is unknown.

Summary: Encephalitis can be caused due to infection by a virus or due to a weak immune system (in which people easily get infected with a disease).

How is Encephalitis diagnosed?

Encephalitis tests may include:

  • Neuroimaging includes a brain MRI or CT scan.
  • A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is used to examine the brain and spinal cord for symptoms of infection.
  • To look for seizures or specific patterns of electrical activity in the brain, an electroencephalogram (EEG) is used.
  • To detect the organisms or antibodies that cause an infection, blood tests, urine tests, and stool testing are used.

Additional tests may include the following:

  • A sputum culture examines the material coughed up from the lungs to discover if it contains particular illnesses.
  • A biopsy of the damaged brain tissue may be conducted in rare circumstances to allow for a microscopic examination.
  • Intracranial pressure monitoring (ICP) is a technique for monitoring brain enlargement by measuring the pressure inside the skull.
Summary: There are a number of ways to diagnose Encephalitis. It may be done by a blood test, urine test, MRI, or CT scan.

How is the treatment done?

After the doctor is through with physical examination and knowing about your medical history, he will recommend some tests to see if you have encephalitis. MRI and CT images will show any swelling in your brain or any other condition that may be causing these symptoms. Samples of blood, urine or excretions from the back of your throat will be tested for any viruses or infectious agents. Electroencephalogram is a test done to record brain’s electrical activity by fixing electrodes to your scalp. These tests will help the doctor in ascertaining whether you have encephalitis and the cause behind it. Treatment for encephalitis usually involves bed rest and consuming plenty of fluids. Anti inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may be prescribed to get relief from headaches and fever. If encephalitis has been caused due to viral infection, anti viral medications such as acyclovir, ganciclovir and foscarnet may be prescribed.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

You must go for this treatment if, according to the diagnostic tests, you are suffering from encephalitis.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Some signs and symptoms may be due to other medical conditions. They do not necessarily indicate encephalitis.

How to prevent Encephalitis?

Certain kinds of infectious encephalitis can be prevented by taking the following steps:

  • Keep your vaccines up to date, especially if you're going to a place where encephalitis is a risk.
  • Practice good hygiene and handwashing to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
  • Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes or ticks.
Summary: You can prevent the spread of encephalitis by maintaining good hygiene, taking required vaccines, and keeping your distance from people who are infected by encephalitis.

Are there any side effects?

Some drugs may cause temporary redness, irritation and itchiness in skin along with nausea for a short period of time.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Make sure that you consume a lot of intravenous fluids for proper hydration and maintaining the level of essential minerals. Go for physio therapy if you feel the need to improve your strength, flexibility, balance, motor coordination and mobility. Consume a healthy and nutritious diet along with exercising daily.

How long does it take to recover?

Most cases of encephalitis get resolved in a few days. In case, of severe condition, it may take a few weeks.

Can Encephalitis go away on its own?

The intensity of the inflammation will determine your prognosis. People with severe instances may take weeks or months to recover.

It can result in lifelong brain damage or even death in some cases.

Encephalitis patients may also have the following symptoms:

  • lack of brain function paralysis.
  • Speech, behavior, memory, and balance issues.

Occupational therapy is used to assist in the redevelopment of everyday abilities.

  • Speech therapy: to aid in the relearning of muscle control required for speaking To assist with coping strategies, mood problems, or personality changes, psychotherapy is used.
Summary: In mild cases, encephalitis can go away on its own but in case of severe symptoms you require a proper course of treatment or therapy.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

One session of consultation with a doctor may cause ₹400 - ₹900. Ibuprofen costs ₹14 per tablet. The cost of acetaminophen may be around ₹100 per 500ml.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are mostly permanent.

What to eat in Encephalitis?

Food items that would help to relieve the symptoms of Encephalitis include:

  • omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, can help to reduce inflammation and enhance the immune system.
  • vitamin C can help to boost the immune system.
  • CFUs (colony forming units) is a day probiotic supplement (lactobacillus acidophilus). Probiotics may help you avoid adverse effects like diarrhea if you are taking antibiotics.
Summary: You must take a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and probiotics to prevent the severe symptoms of encephalitis.

What not to eat in Encephalitis?

Food items you must during Encephalitis include:

  • Coffee and tea.
  • Limit your intake of salty, sweet, and fatty foods.
  • Refined foods, such as white bread, pasta.
  • Excessive use of sugar.
Summary: Patients of encephalitis should avoid refined foods and carbohydrates.

Should I go to urgent care for Encephalitis?

You should go for urgent care if you have severe symptoms of encephalitis. A severe headache, a fever, and a change in consciousness necessitate immediate medical attention.

Summary: You should go for urgent care if you have some severe symptoms of encephalitis.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are no alternatives to this treatment but you can lower the risk of catching encephalitis by getting vaccinations against the viruses that cause it. Also, remember to wear pants and long sleeved clothes in areas where mosquitoes are common.

Physical Exercises for those suffering from Encephalitis

Encephalitis can produce a number of symptoms, including loss of arm and limb strength and the inability to walk.

Physiotherapy can aid your child's quality of life after encephalitis by increasing muscle strength and movement.

Following is an example of a treatment plan for a youngster recovering from encephalitis:

  • Exercises to strengthen all limbs and the trunk.
  • Stretching both passively and actively to preserve muscle strength and joint range of motion.
  • Exercises that improve core stability.
  • Balance activities that are dynamic.
Summary: People suffering from encephalitis should practice moderate exercises that would help to improve core stability, arm strength, and muscular endurance.

Which is the best medicine for Encephalitis?

Antiviral therapy is generally required for encephalitis caused by some viruses.

Medicines to treat encephalitis include:

  • Ganciclovir (Cytovene)
  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Foscarnet (Foscavir)

Some viruses, such as those spread by insects, are resistant to conventional therapies. However, because the exact virus may not be recognized, doctors frequently prescribe acyclovir treatment.

When HSV is not treated promptly, it can cause serious consequences. Acyclovir can help. Antiviral drugs are usually well tolerated.

Summary: Medicines that doctors usually prescribe for encephalitis are acyclovir, ganciclovir, and foscarnet.

Can you fully recover from Encephalitis?

The majority of persons who have mild encephalitis recover completely. The virus involved and the intensity of the inflammation determine the most effective treatment and the patient's chances of recovery.

The infection immediately affects the brain cells in acute encephalitis.

Summary: In mild cases, it usually takes a week or two for a full recovery but in severe cases, it might take a longer time.


Popular Questions & Answers

View All

I am 6 weeks pregnant and got to know recently ...


Dr. Girish Dani


A hepatitis b surface antigen test shows if you have an active infection. A hepatitis b surface a...

I'm a tb patient and I was initially asked to t...


Vandana Prabhu


There is a way to treat drug- induced hepatitis. We should stop all att, then introduce the first...

I am suffering from lichen planus pigmentation ...


Dr. Sarita Tippannawar


Hi since lichen 0lanus is a chronic and autoimmune skin condition. It takes time to get cured. Re...

Dear sir/madam, meri wife ko tuberclosis with m...


Dr. Nishant Saxena


Your patient is likely suffering from cns tb or tubercular meningitis. U provided cursory details...

My mom (51 years) detected with skin tb. She ha...


Udaya Sureshkumar


Hello, akt once started needs to be continued for 6 to 9 months. You could do a liver function te...