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Viral Encephalitis


Viral encephalitis is inflammation of the brain due to a viral infection.


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 safety measures

may be used if you have an infection that can be passed from person to person. Healthcare providers 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 healthcare providers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. A provider will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. He or she may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.


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.


  • Antivirals treat infections caused by a virus.
  • Anticonvulsants prevent, decrease, or stop seizures.
  • Steroids decrease swelling in your brain.
  • Antipyretics decrease a fever.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


  • Body fluid tests may include a sample of fluid from your nose or your throat, blood, or bowel movement. The results of these tests may show healthcare providers which germ is causing your illness.
  • MRI pictures may show swelling and signs of inflammation in your brain. You may be given contrast liquid to help swelling or inflammation show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A lumbar puncture may be used to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to see if you have an infection. A needle is inserted into your spinal canal through your back. CSF may also be drained to relieve pressure and ease a headache.
  • An EEG is used to check how your brain is working. Brain wave activity is recorded from different parts of your brain.


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. Left untreated, viral encephalitis may cause paralysis or be life-threatening.


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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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)

Associated drugs

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.