Monday, April 30, 2012

Encephalitis

The Greek word encephalitis means “in the head”. Encephalitis refers to acute inflammation of the human brain’s parenchyma. Secondary encephalitis, post-infectious encephalitis, is an extension of the infection of other body parts, such as varicella, rubella and measles. The fatal disease is also a rare complication of infection-sinus. Encephalitis related to infection-sinus could be of two types: circumscribed encephalitis and diffuse encephalitis. Circumscribed encephalitis is also called brain abscess.




Causes
Even a small scratch in the dura, the membrane surrounding the brain, may cause encephalitis. Generally, encephalitis and meningitis occur simultaneously.  Encephalitis could be infective (viral) and non-infective. Virus is the most common pathogen responsible for encephalitis. The viruses causing the disease include adenoviruses, Colorado tick virus, cytomegalovirus, enteroviruses, herpes simplex viruses, Japanese encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile virus. The viruses can travel from the nasal cavity to the sinuses to the brain, causing encephalitis.
Some times, non-viral agents can also cause the inflammation. Non-viral factors could be bacterial, fungal and protozoa-related. Some times, vaccinations may also cause encephalitis.

Symptoms
Symptoms vary with the factors responsible for the disorder. A combination of the following symptoms may develop:

Changes in personality of the patient like drowsiness, irritability, disorientation and confusion
Chills
Fever
Headaches, which could be severe
Malaise
Nausea, vomiting
Papilledema
Stiff neck
Vision loss
Weakness of muscles


Treatment
Since brain inflammation causes several clinical, cellular and molecular changes in the patient, immediate treatment of underlying causes, including infection-sinus is necessary. Another reason for quick treatment is deadly nature of the disease.
The treatment includes a thorough neurological examination to assess cranial nerve abnormalities, ataxia, hemiparesis, state of consciousness and movement problems. Examination of the mucous membranes and skin is also performed. The type of medication depends on the form of encephalitis. For instance, herpes encephalitis is treated with acyclovir, an antiviral medication.

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