Meningitis: What It Is and How to Avoid It Watch Video

Viral Encephalitis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Viral encephalitis is inflammation of the brain due to a viral infection. It may also be caused by an infection in another part of your body, which can later lead to encephalitis.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may become very sick from viral encephalitis. Brain swelling may cause seizures. If you do not get early treatment, you may have damage to your brain and other organs. You may have problems with hearing, seeing, talking, or learning. If left untreated, viral encephalitis may cause paralysis or be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Isolation:

You may be put on isolation safety measures if you have an infection or disease that may be given to others. Caregivers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, or a gown. Visitors should wash their hands before leaving to keep from spreading germs.

Neurologic exam:

This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Breathing support:

  • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

Medicines:

  • Antivirals: These treat infections that are caused by a virus.

  • Anticonvulsants: These prevent, decrease, or stop seizures.

  • Steroids: These decrease swelling in your brain.

  • Antipyretics: This medicine is given to decrease a fever.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Tests:

Tests may be done to see how your body is handling the disease, or to help caregivers decide on the best treatment for you. You may need more than one of the following:

  • Body fluid tests: A sample of fluid from your nose or your throat, or a sample of blood or bowel movement may be taken for tests. The results of these tests may show caregivers what germ is causing your illness.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your brain. An MRI may show swelling and signs of inflammation in your brain. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • Lumbar puncture: A needle is inserted into spinal canal through your back. Caregivers will collect a sample of the fluid to see if you have an infection. CSF may be collected and sent to a lab for tests. Caregivers may also drain CSF to relieve pressure and ease your headache.

  • EEG: This test is also called an electroencephalogram. Many small pads or metal discs are put on your head. Each has a wire that is hooked to a machine. This machine prints a paper tracing of brain wave activity from different parts of your brain. Caregivers look at the tracing to see how your brain is working.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Viral Encephalitis (Inpatient Care)

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