Encephalitis: Symptoms and Causes of the Disease Parents Should Be Aware Of
When a person is suffering from encephalitis, it means that his/her brain is inflamed. In almost all cases, the inflammation has been caused by a type of virus. It is a very uncommon disease that is said to affect only 1 of 200,000 people. In addition, those who are at higher risk of acquiring this condition are children, people who have compromised immune systems (examples of which are individuals with AIDS, HIV, or cancer), and older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while it is true that thousands and thousands of encephalitis cases are reported every year, medical professionals believe that there are more people suffering from encephalitis, as the disease has quite the number of symptoms. And since children are at higher risk of developing this problem, it is a must for parents to know what the signs of the disease are.
What are the Symptoms of Encephalitis?
For milder encephalitis cases, the most common symptoms include the following:
• Loss or lack of appetite
• Loss or lack of energy
• Feeling sick, in general
In cases wherein the disease is more serious in nature, a person who may be afflicted with it has a higher likelihood of suffering from a high fever, together with other symptoms that affect the central nervous system.
These indications include the following:
• Severe headaches
• Stiffness or pain in the neck
• Changes in personality
• Seizures or convulsions
• Hearing-related problems
• Speech-related problems
• Memory loss
It is also worthy to note that people who are suffering from encephalitis may go into a coma, which is why it is critical for parents to be able to immediately take action if their children are exhibiting any of the signs of this disease.
As a parent, you should also know that the signs and indications of encephalitis in infants can be a lot harder to detect. The most important ones though, that you should be able take notice of as soon as they exhibit themselves in your child, are the following:
• Constantly crying without any apparent reason
• Bouts of crying that becomes worse when you pick up or handle your child
• A bulging soft spot or a full-blown one
• Stiffness in any or all parts of the body
If your child is showing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is important for you to give your doctor a call right away or take your child to the nearest hospital where he/she can be looked at by medical professionals.
What are the Causes of Encephalitis?
One very important thing that you need to know about encephalitis is that, there are many different types of germs that are known for causing them. This condition, which is literally the inflammation of the brain, can spread in a variety of methods. It is extremely crucial for parents to know what the possible causes of encephalitis are, as children are some of those at greater risk of developing this serious health problem.
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
The Herpes Simplex Virus, also commonly referred to as HSV, is one of the most common causes of this particular condition. It is also one of the most dangerous. It is worthy to note that HSV is actually the exact, same virus that leads to the development of cold sores affecting the area surrounding the mouth. When the virus attacks the brain, the person afflicted with it may suffer from serious health problems. If medical care is not administered right away, it can lead to death.
Lyme disease can also result in encephalitis, as a form of a complication. This disease, which is transmitted by the rabies of rabid animals or ticks, can cause the brain to become inflamed. This is very rare though.
There are also quite a number of types of encephalitis that can be transmitted and spread by mosquitoes. Some of these are the West Nile encephalitis, the Western Equine encephalitis, and the St. Louis encephalitis.
Other Factors that Can Contribute to the Occurrence of Encephalitis
Encephalitis can also be of milder in nature. In cases of mild encephalitis, medical experts say that these can be due to some of the most common illnesses acquired during childhood, such as measles, chickenpox, mumps, mononucleosis, and rubella.
In some rare cases, encephalitis can also be caused by bacterial infections, as in the case of bacterial meningitis. It is also worthy to note that the disease may be a result of a complication due to an infectious disease, such as syphilis.