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Understanding Encephalitis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Is Encephalitis Diagnosed?

To diagnose encephalitis, your doctor will consider your symptoms and ask about any recent illnesses and possible exposure to viruses -- being near others who are ill or near mosquitoes or ticks, for example.

Your doctor may also order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, spinal tap, or an electroencephalogram (EEG).

Understanding Encephalitis

Find out more about encephalitis:

Basics

Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

Prevention

Blood tests to check for the presence of bacteria or viruses and immune cells produced in response to them can also be helpful.

Rarely, an analysis of a brain tissue sample (biopsy) may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis in cases where symptoms are worsening and treatments aren't working. It can be very important to identify the type of encephalitis so that appropriate treatment can be given.

What Are the Treatments for Encephalitis?

Because complications from encephalitis can be serious, the condition requires hospitalization. Treatment will depend largely on your age and condition, as well as the form and cause of the disease. If encephalitis is caused by a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics. Treatment for herpes-related encephalitis includes supportive care, as well as antiviral therapy with a drug such as acyclovir. Other treatments may be used to lower fever, provide hydration, treat seizures if they develop, and reduce any pressure in the skull.

With proper care, many people recover from encephalitis. Infants and elderly people are at greater risk of sustaining permanent brain damage.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 03, 2015

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