What Is Encephalopathy

Encephalopathy is a term that refers to structural or functional abnormalities of the brain due to a condition or disease. This structural or functional abnormality can be temporary, but can also be  permanent, so immediate detection and treatment needs to be done to increase the chances of recovery.

Symptoms of Encephalopathy
Symptoms of encephalopathy can be changes in mental state, including loss of concentration, impaired motion coordination, and loss of ability to overcome problems or make decisions. In addition to changes in mental conditions, encephalopathy can cause neurological symptoms, such as:
  • The part of the body that is twitching.
  • Difficulty swallowing or talking.
  • Muscle weakness in one limb.
  • Seizures.
  • Decreased consciousness , ranging from looking drowsy to coma.

Causes of Encephalopathy
The following are conditions that can cause encephalopathy:
  • Lack of oxygen supply to the brain, for example due to infection or lack of blood.
  • Electrolyte disorders.
  • Blood pressure that is too low or even too high.
  • Drug poisoning or side effects.
  • Liver disease , including jaundice.
  • Head injury.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Hashimoto's Disease.
  • The glycine protein is too high in the brain, due to genetic disorders.
  • Vitamin B1 deficiency triggered by alcoholism (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome).
  • Lyme disease.
  • Mad cow.
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Diagnosis of Encephalopathy
The doctor will say a patient has encephalopathy through visible symptoms. To find the cause, the doctor will ask for a previous medical history, plus a physical examination, including a blood pressure check. To make it clearer, patients need further examination, it will be advisable to take a test in the form of:
  • Complete blood count, to detect infection and lack of blood.
  • Germ cultures from blood samples or other body fluids, to detect infection.
  • Blood gas analysis to determine oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Test toxicity or drug levels in the blood.
  • Blood chemistry test, to determine the levels of electrolytes, sugar, and waste substances that should be treated or removed by the liver and kidneys.
  • Liver and kidney function tests.
  • CT scan or MRI, to detect abnormalities in brain structure.
  • Doppler ultrasound of the blood vessels of the neck, to detect impaired blood flow to brain tissue
  • Electroencephalography (EEG), to detect abnormalities of brain electrical waves.

Treatment of Encephalopathy
Treatment for encephalopathy varies, according to the cause, which can be:
  • Giving extra oxygen.
  • Infusion of fluids, electrolytes, and additional nutrients.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Lactulose medicine.
  • Dialysis or kidney transplantation in uremic encephalopathy.
  • Use drugs to increase or decrease blood pressure.
In addition to drugs, patients will also be adjusted for the type of food. Certain medical procedures, to surgery can also be needed, such as dialysis to kidney transplants in encephalopathy which causes kidney failure.

Prevention of Encephalopathy
Some types of encephalopathy can still be prevented by taking simple steps. For example, encephalopathy caused by kidney failure can be prevented by regulating a special dietary pattern for patients with kidney disease. Or for patients who have undergone dialysis, it is necessary to do a routine examination with the kidney doctor and keep consistent with dialysis.

For alcoholics, it is necessary to reduce the amount of consumption to avoid Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

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