Encephalopathy is a term for a group of diseases that attack the structure or function of the brain so that it interferes with the consciousness of the sufferer. This condition must be treated immediately so that the symptoms do not get worse.

Encephalopathy can be caused by genetic disorders, diseases, or medical conditions that occur with age. This condition can be temporary or permanent.

However, temporary encephalopathy can progress to permanent. If not treated immediately, encephalopathy is at risk of causing coma and even death.

Causes of Encephalopathy

There are various conditions that can cause encephalopathy. These conditions include:

  • Electrolyte disturbance
  • Blood pressure that is too low or too high
  • Genetic disorders, such as high levels of glycine in the brain
  • Head injury
  • Decreased oxygen supply to the brain, for example the baby's neck is wrapped in the umbilical cord or delayed CPR in people with heart attacks
  • Degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease
  • Wernicke–Korsakof syndrome triggered by alcoholism or malnutrition
  • Infections of the brain, such as meningitis, rabies , and mad cow disease
  • Blood pressure that is too low or too high
  • Genetic disorders, such as high levels of glycine in the brain
  • Hashimoto's disease
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, cirrhosis , heart failure, or kidney failure
  • Exposure to chemicals or radiation for a long time
  • Brain tumor
  • Cancer

Symptoms of Encephalopathy

Encephalopathy can cause different symptoms, depending on the cause. Common symptoms of encephalopathy are:

  • dazed
  • Seizure
  • Tremor
  • Difficult to swallow
  • Memory loss
  • Difficult to focus and concentrate
  • Easily sleepy
  • Eyes move uncontrollably
  • Speech disorder

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor or go to the nearest emergency room if you or your family experience the symptoms above. Change or decrease in consciousness is an emergency condition that must be treated immediately.

Treatment by a doctor also needs to be done immediately if you experience repeated symptoms of encephalopathy, seizures, difficulty waking up, or weakness.

Encephalopathy Diagnosis

To diagnose encephalopathy, the doctor will ask about the symptoms experienced and the patient's medical history, followed by a physical examination. The doctor will then carry out further examinations to confirm the diagnosis, including:

  • Blood tests , to detect infection, as well as check liver function, kidney function, and electrolyte levels
  • Lumbar puncture , to detect infection, bleeding, or inflammation, by examining a sample of spinal fluid
  • Scans with CT scan or MRI, to detect abnormalities or disorders in the brain
  • Electroencephalography (EEG), to see the electrical activity of the brain

Encephalopathy Treatment

Treatment of encephalopathy is adjusted to the symptoms and causes. In patients who experience severe symptoms, treatment must be carried out in a hospital, including administering oxygen and infusion. If necessary, the patient will be treated in the ICU .

Doctors can also give medicines, including:

  • Antibiotics
  • Lactulose drug
  • Insulin, if the encephalopathy is caused by high blood sugar levels ( hyperglycemia )

If needed, the patient will be given nutrition through a tube according to the doctor's prescription. In addition, dialysis or kidney transplantation can also be an option if the encephalopathy is caused by kidney failure.

Complications of encephalopathy

Encephalopathy that is not treated immediately can cause permanent brain damage. This condition can cause various health complications, such as:

  • Brain swelling
  • Coma
  • Decreased thinking skills
  • Paralysed
  • Dead

Encephalopathy Prevention

Encephalopathy can be prevented by avoiding the various factors that cause it. Some of the efforts that can be done are:

  • Take medication regularly and regularly check blood sugar levels for diabetics
  • Limiting or stopping the consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Use head protection and seat belts when driving to prevent head and neck injuries
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Wash hands regularly
  • Eat a balanced nutritious diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain ideal body weight
  • Check with your doctor regularly if you have a history of certain diseases
Back to blog