Encephalitis can often be caused by an infection. Some common ones are:
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
- The varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, shingles, Measles, Mumps, and rubella
- Viruses carried by mosquitoes such as West Nile or Eastern equine encephalitis
It can also be caused by a problem with the immune system, such as a prior infection in the body or a tumor.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done to look for signs of infection. A lumbar puncture may be done to test the fluid around the spine.
Images may be taken of the brain to look for changes. This can be done with:
- CT scan
- MRI scan
There are not many ways to treat viruses. They take time to leave the body. Most treatment will focus on supporting the body until the virus has passed.
These medicines may be given:
- Antiviral drugs to shorten the length of the illness
- Steroids to ease swelling in the brain
- Diuretics to ease pressure in the head
- Anti-seizure medicine to prevent and treat seizures
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Encephalitis Society http://www.encephalitis.info
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke https://www.ninds.nih.gov
Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation http://www.cnsfederation.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
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