What is encephalitis?

Fact Checked

Encephalitis is a condition where the brain tissue is inflamed. The usual cause are viral infections. In rare instances, it can also be caused by bacteria or even fungi.

It is considered rare yet a serious condition that can be dangerous. A doctor should be consulted right away if any signs are suspected.

Main types

  • Primary – occurs if a virus directly infects the brain and spinal cord
  • Secondary – occur if an infection in a different part of the body travels to the brain

What are the signs?

The indications of encephalitis can range from minor to severe.


  • Fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy


The indications of encephalitis can range from minor to severe.
  • Fever up to 103 degrees F or higher
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Slowed movements
  • Irritability
  • Light sensitivity
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Management of encephalitis

The treatment for encephalitis is often based on alleviating the symptoms such as:

  • Adequate rest
  • Pain medications
  • Corticosteroids to lessen the inflammation in the brain
  • Lukewarm sponge baths
  • Fluids that can be given intravenously in some cases
  • Sedatives
  • Anticonvulsants to prevent or control seizures
  • Mechanical ventilation

The individual might require hospitalization while under treatment especially if there is swelling of the brain and seizures.

What is the long-term outlook?

The outlook of an individual with encephalitis is based on the seriousness of the inflammation. For mild cases, the inflammation typically subsides in a few days. In severe cases, it might take weeks or even months to settle. It can oftentimes cause lasting damage to the brain or even death.

An individual with encephalitis might also suffer from:

  • Loss of brain function
  • Paralysis
  • Issues with behavior, speech, memory and balance

Depending on the form and seriousness of encephalitis, further treatment might be needed such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychotherapy

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All firstaidreddeer.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.