Assessment
Questionnaire

Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
 
Articles » NINDS Encephalitis and Meningitis Information Page: NINDS
 

NINDS Encephalitis and Meningitis Information Page: NINDS

Article title: NINDS Encephalitis and Meningitis Information Page: NINDS

Conditions: Encephalitis, Meningitis


What is Encephalitis and Meningitis?
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. There are many types of encephalitis, most of which are caused by viral infection. Symptoms include sudden fever, headache, vomiting, photophobia (abnormal visual sensitivity to light), stiff neck and back, confusion, drowsiness, clumsiness, unsteady gait, and irritability. Symptoms that require emergency treatment include loss of consciousness, poor responsiveness, seizures, muscle weakness, sudden severe dementia, memory loss, withdrawal from social interaction, and impaired judgement.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes (called meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms, which may appear suddenly, often include high fever, severe and persistent headache, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. Changes in behavior such as confusion, sleepiness, and difficulty waking up are extremely important symptoms and may require emergency treatment. In infants symptoms of meningitis may include irritability or tiredness, poor feeding and fever. Meningitis may be caused by many different viruses and bacteria. Viral meningitis cases are usually self-limited to 10 days or less. Some types of meningitis can be deadly if not treated promptly. Anyone experiencing symptoms of meningitis or encephalitis should see a doctor immediately.

Is there any treatment?
Antiviral medications may be prescribed for herpes encephalitis or other severe viral infections. Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial infections. Anticonvulsants are used to prevent or treat seizures. Corticosteroids are used to reduce brain swelling and inflammation. Sedatives may be needed for irritability or restlessness. Over-the-counter medications may be used for fever and headache. Individuals with encephalitis or bacterial meningitis are usually hospitalized for treatment.

What is the prognosis?
The prognosis for encephalitis varies. Some cases are mild, short and relatively benign and patients have full recovery. Other cases are severe, and permanent impairment or death is possible. The acute phase of encephalitis may last for 1 to 2 weeks, with gradual or sudden resolution of fever and neurological symptoms. Neurological symptoms may require many months before full recovery. With early diagnosis and prompt treatment, most patients recover from meningitis. However, in some cases, the disease progresses so rapidly that death occurs during the first 48 hours, despite early treatment.

What research is being done?
The NINDS supports and conducts research on infections and diseases of the brain and nervous system including encephalitis and meningitis. Much of this research is aimed at learning more about the cause(s), prevention, and treatment of these disorders.

 Organizations

Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc.
7155 Shadeland Station
Suite 190
Indianapolis, IN 46256-3922
support@musa.org
http://www.musa.org/
Tel: 800-668-1129 317-595-6383
Fax: 317-595-6370

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institutes of Health
31 Center Drive, Rm. 7A50 MSC 2520
Bethesda, MD 20892-2520
(see website)
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/
Tel: 301-496-5717

This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.Provided by:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892


 

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise