Encephalopathy is a disease of the brain that causes problem with how it works. There are many types. A key sign is a change in mental state, such as confusion and sudden mood changes.
There are many causes. Some common ones are:
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Risk factors depend on the type of encephalopathy a person has. For example, alcohol use disorder can put a person at risk for Wernicke encephalopathy.
The main problem is a change in mental state, such as:
Other problems may be:
The doctor will ask you or your caregiver about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
These tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis and find the cause:
The cause will need to be treated. This may be done with:
Many causes cannot be prevented. The risk of some causes may be lowered by:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Liver Foundation
Eencephalopathy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Encephalopathy-Information-Page. Updated March 27, 2019. Accessed April 16, 2020.
Hepatic encephalopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hepatic-encephalopathy. Updated July 23, 2019. Accessed April 16, 2020.
Wijdicks EF. Hepatic Encephalopathy. N Engl J Med. 2016 Oct 27;375(17):1660-1670.
Last reviewed February 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 4/16/2020