by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Encephalitis is swelling of the brain.
Encephalitis can often be caused by an infection. Some common ones are:
It can also be caused by a problem with the immune system, such as a prior infection in the body or a tumor.
Some things that may raise the risk of encephalitis are:
Symptoms may range from mild to severe. They may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done to look for signs of infection. A lumbar puncture may be done to test the fluid around the spine.
Images may be taken of the brain to look for changes. This can be done with:
There are not many ways to treat viruses. They take time to leave the body. Most treatment will focus on supporting the body until the virus has passed.
These medicines may be given:
To lower your chances of getting encephalitis:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation
Eastern equine encephalitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/eastern-equine-encephalitis. Updated October 1, 2019. Accessed October 18, 2019.
Herpes simplex encephalitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/herpes-simplex-encephalitis. Updated August 29, 2019. Accessed October 18, 2019.
Mann AP, Grebenciucova E, et al. Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor encephalitis: diagnosis, optimal management, and challenges. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2014;10:517-525.
Meningitis and encephalitis information page. National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Meningitis-and-Encephalitis-Information-Page. Updated March 27, 2019. Accessed October 18, 2019.
Nicholas MK, Collins J, et al. Youmans Textbook of Neurological Surgery, 7th Edition. Section II: General Neurosurgery. AIDS. 2016.
Petersen LR, Brault AC, et al. West Nile virus: review of the literature. JAMA. 2013 Jul 17;310(3):308-315.
Serafini A, Lukas RV, et al. Paraneoplastic epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2016;61:51-58.
West Nile virus infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/west-nile-virus-infection. Updated September 30, 2019. Accessed October 18, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 8/11/2020
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.
All rights reserved.