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Health Information For Teens
Encephalitis is an inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the brain. In most cases, a
causes this inflammation.
Encephalitis is also called acute viral encephalitis or aseptic encephalitis.
Encephalitis (in-seh-fuh-LYE-tus) is a rare disease. Most cases happen in children, the elderly, and people with a weakened immune system (from HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.).
Several thousand cases of encephalitis are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year. But health experts think that many more cases happen that aren’t reported because symptoms vary and can be mild.
Symptoms in mild cases of encephalitis usually include:
Serious cases of encephalitis can cause:
Because encephalitis can happen during or after common viral illnesses, symptoms of these illnesses can start before encephalitis happens. But often, it appears without warning.
Three groups of viruses are common causes of encephalitis:
Less often, encephalitis can be:
, such as bacterial meningitis
Brain inflammation itself is not contagious. But the viruses that cause encephalitis can be. Of course, getting a virus does not mean that someone will develop encephalitis.
Doctors use several tests to diagnose encephalitis, including:
Most people with encephalitis need care in a hospital, usually in an intensive care unit (ICU). Doctors will watch their blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and body fluids to prevent further swelling of the brain.
Many people with encephalitis make a full recovery. In some cases, brain swelling can cause lasting problem like learning disabilities, speech problems, memory loss, or lack of muscle control. Speech therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy can help in these cases.
Most of the time, the
phase of the illness (when symptoms are the most severe) lasts up to a week. Full recovery can take longer, often several weeks or months.
The best way to prevent encephalitis is to avoid getting infected with the viruses or other germs that can cause it. Regular hand washing will help limit the spread of some of these germs. Staying as healthy as possible by eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of rest can help keep your immune system in shape. Immunizations are also an important way to protect people from diseases like chickenpox and measles.
In areas where viruses and other germs are transmitted by insect bites, protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and pants and applying an insect repellent. Also, try to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
Get medical care right away if you have any of these symptoms:
It’s sometimes called “the kissing disease,” but kissing is just one of the ways that someone can catch mono.
Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don’t wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself.
Cold sores (also known as fever blisters) are pretty common and lots of people get them. So what causes them and what can you do?
You may be wondering what the deal is with meningitis because you’ve heard frightening stuff about meningitis outbreaks in the news.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a disease caused by a bacteria that is carried by certain types of ticks. Learn about the signs and symptoms of RMSF and tips for preventing infection in this article.
Lyme disease can be treated if it’s caught early. Find out what causes it, how it’s treated, and how to prevent it.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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