Nervous System Home > Encephalitis

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone can get it. People with weakened immune systems, including those with HIV or those taking immunosuppressant drugs, are at the highest risk of contracting encephalitis.


The brain inflammation caused by encephalitis can produce a wide range of symptoms, including:
  • Sudden fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Heightened sensitivity to light
  • Confusion and impaired judgment
  • Drowsiness
  • Weak muscles
  • Clumsy and unsteady gait
  • Irritability.
Symptoms that might require emergency treatment include:


(Click Encephalitis Symptoms for information on other symptoms of the condition.)


Complications Resulting From Encephalitis

In extreme cases of encephalitis, complications can include:

How Is It Treated?

Encephalitis treatment may involve antiviral medications being prescribed for herpes encephalitis or other severe viral 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.
(Click Encephalitis Treatment for a closer look at how the condition is treated.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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