This is a general term for a disease that alters a person’s brain function and mental state. Some types of encephalopathy include:
- Glycine encephalopathy—caused by a metabolic disorder (how the cells make energy)
Hepatic encephalopathy—caused by liver disease
Hypoxic encephalopathy—caused by reduced oxygen to brain
- Static encephalopathy—permanent brain damage
- Uremic encephalopathy—caused by toxins remaining in the body, usually due to kindney failure
- Wernicke’s encephalopathy—caused by a thiamine deficiency, usually due to alcoholism
- Hashimoto’s encephalopathy—an autoimmune disorder (when your immune system attacks your body’s cells)
Hypertensive encephalopathy—caused by very
high blood pressure
- Toxic-Metabolic encephalopathy—a general term to describe encephalopathies caused by infections, toxins, or organ failure
Treating the cause may reverse symptoms in some types. But, some forms of may result in lasting changes in the brain. If brain injury is severe and cannot be reversed, the disease can be fatal.
Symptoms may include:
- Sudden or progressive changes in memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Impaired thinking
- Abnormal drowsiness
- Mood changes
- Progressive loss of consciousness
- Subtle personality changes
- Involuntary muscle twitches and flapping movements
- Muscle weakness and unsteadiness
- Abnormal eye movements
Signs that encephalopathy may be getting worse include:
- Severe confusion
- Severe drowsiness
Medical care is needed right away for these symptoms.
The doctor will try to stop or reverse the underlying condition. Treatment options include:
Depending on the cause, your doctor may prescribe medications. For example, if the cause is a toxin in the body, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower the levels of the toxin. Some infectious causes can also be treated.
Medications may be needed for seizures.
Vitamins or supplements may also be given. In some cases, these may help prevent damage to the brain.
Your doctor may suggest changes to your diet. For example, if you have liver damage, you may need to limit how much protein you eat.
and life support may be needed, especially in the case of coma.
In some cases, you may need an organ transplant or dialysis. With
dialysis, toxins are removed from the blood through a filtering process.