Your Guide to Understanding Encephalitis

Sep 04, 2019 | 2 weeks ago | Read Time: 3 minutes | By iKnowledge Team
Your Guide to Understanding Encephalitis

What is Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain tissue. There are different types of encephalitis that can affect a person. For instance, Japanese encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes, while tick-borne encephalitis, as the name suggests, is because of ticks. Animals too can cause encephalitis, via the rabies infection. Childhood viruses such as mumps, chicken pox and rubella can also be the cause of this illness.

Types of Encephalitis

Further, there can also be primary or secondary encephalitis. Primary or infectious encephalitis occurs when the brain and spinal cord are directly attacked and affected by a virus, fungus or bacteria. In the case of secondary or post-infectious encephalitis, a reaction to a previous infection is triggered off, and the immune system attacks the brain. While encephalitis does not routinely occur, you should know that it is a life-threatening disease. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from the illness, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Symptoms of Encephalitis

Here are some symptoms of encephalitis that you should look out for:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Exhaustion or lethargy
  • Vomiting

Some of the more severe symptoms include:

  • A fever higher than 103 degrees F
  • Coma
  • Slower movements
  • Photosensitivity, or sensitivity to light
  • Confusion and/ or hallucinations
  • Drowsiness

While there is no particular age group that is susceptible to encephalitis, some high-risk groups include children under the age of 11 years, individuals with weak immune systems and slightly older adults.

Encephalitis occurs in 1 in every 1,000 cases of measles. The number of new cases of acute Encephalitis both in Western and tropical countries continues to remain more or less the same every year, with 7.4 and 6.34 cases per 100,000 annually, respectively. An encephalitis outbreak in 2015 had affected 4.3 million people and resulted in 150,000 deaths globally.

How to detect and treat Encephalitis

The illness is diagnosed, depending upon your symptoms, by carrying out brain imaging with a CT scan or MRI. In some cases, an EEG may also be required, to monitor brain activity. If Encephalitis is present, it would produce an abnormal signal. A spinal tap or lumbar puncture may be required, to test spinal fluid for infection. Blood and urine tests are a routine check, which can diagnose Encephalitis as well as any other infection present. Rarely is brain biopsy performed, but it is done if samples of brain tissue are required to be tested for infection.

Encephalitis is not always preventable but ensuring that you are vaccinated against some of the viruses that cause the illness may lower your risk of contracting it. Of course, with children being more likely to fall ill, do make sure that their vaccinations are up-to-date!

Treating Encephalitis mainly focuses on relieving symptoms. The treatments may include prescribing painkillers, sponge baths to bring down the fever, and advising plenty of rest. In case of brain inflammation, corticosteroids may be required to be administered, and anticonvulsants to prevent or stop seizures. More severe cases may additionally hospitalisation, especially if the patient has swelling in the brain and/ or seizures. The severity can vary from case to case, but the common thread is the fact that you cannot ignore this illness. If it is a mild case, you should see an improvement within a few days; however, a more severe case of this illness can take weeks, or even months, to get cured. Sometimes, it is also likely that a person may suffer from permanent brain damage or even death.

Conclusion

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can never be easy mentally or emotionally, but what you need to ensure is that at the very least, finances are taken care of. Managing illnesses such as Encephalitis, may be difficult without financial support. This makes it important to have adequate term insurance in place.

Comprehensive health insurance covercan see you through these difficult times and ensure that you and your loved ones do not have to utilise possibly your entire savings in order to treat an illness. Make the decision to protect your family, today. To know about Aegon Life’s life insurance products like health insurance and other products, visit our home page.


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