Encephalopathy is an umbrella term that describes a number of structural or functional brain conditions. It can be temporary or permanent, and ranges from mild memory loss to personality changes, dementia and seizures.
Encephalopathy can result from many conditions. For example, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is caused by multiple traumas or injuries to the brain.
Most cases of encephalopathy result from:
Other common causes of this condition include:
Since encephalopathy describes a number of different brain issues, symptoms can vary extensively. They depend on the cause and severity of the specific type of encephalopathy.
Many people with encephalopathy have changes in their mental status, such as:
People with this condition may also have neurological symptoms including:
In general, doctors diagnose encephalopathy when a person has an altered mental state along with another condition, such as brain injury or organ failure. The doctor performs a physical examination that assesses mental status, memory and coordination.
To find the underlying health issue that resulted in the encephalopathy, doctors use diagnostic tests that can include blood tests, imaging exams and metabolic tests.
Other tests may be ordered depending on the symptoms, and not all tests will be done on every patient.
Treatment for encephalopathy depends on the underlying cause. This can mean adjusting or beginning medications, surgery or other treatments for what caused the encephalopathy. In some cases, a nutritional supplement or a change in diet can help.
In severe cases of encephalopathy, life support may be needed to ensure the brain has enough oxygen while neurological issues are being treated.
While it’s a rare occurrence, vaccines are sometimes associated with encephalopathy. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program recognizes the MMR vaccine as a possible cause of encephalopathy. They also recognize vaccines used against pertussis such as the DTP or DTaP for this injury.
Children are more likely than adults to develop this condition from a vaccine. When they do, they may have symptoms such as:
If any of these symptoms appear, bring them immediately to a healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment. Symptoms are usually minor and don’t last long. However, in rare instances encephalopathy can be devastatingly severe and life-altering. Some children and adults with this condition require long-term care.
US Vaccine Law, the National Vaccine Injury Law Firm has been representing individuals and their families in cases involving Flu Shot Reactions, Gardasil /HPV Reactions, MMR Vaccine Injuries and any case involving the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
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