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Prisma Health Children's Hospital–Midlands

7 Richland Medical Park Dr.
Columbia, SC 29203

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Encephalitis

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Usually the cause is a viral infection, but bacteria can also cause it. It can be mild or severe. Most cases are mild. You may have flu-like symptoms. With a mild case, you may just need rest, plenty of fluids, and a pain reliever.

Severe cases need immediate treatment. Symptoms of severe cases include:

  • Severe headache
  • Sudden fever
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

In babies, additional symptoms may include constant crying, poor feeding, body stiffness, and bulging in the soft spots of the skull.

Prognosis

The prognosis for people with meningitis varies. In most cases, people with very mild encephalitis can make a full recovery, although the process may be slow. Individuals who experience mild symptoms may recover in 2-4 weeks. Other cases are severe, and permanent impairment or death is possible.

Treatment

Severe cases may require a stay in the hospital. Treatments include oral and intravenous (IV) medicines to reduce inflammation and treat infection. Patients with breathing difficulties may need artificial respiration. Some children require a comprehensive, interdisciplinary inpatient rehabilitation program to maximize recovery and function after the acute illness is treated. Pediatric physiatrists prescribe programs, therapies, medications, and equipment to help maximize recovery and function in an inpatient rehabilitation program, and throughout early adulthood.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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