Encephalitis might be a very rare disease, but it is common is viral infections. It is an inflammation of the brain tissue and could be life-threatening. Having this illness only appears on 1 in 1,000 of those with cases of measles. But what is the cause of this illness and how can you avoid it?
One of the most important thing that you should know about encephalitis is that it is an acute inflammation that is usually from a virus. As an acute disease, it could mean that it appears in your brain rapidly which is why it crucial that you take immediate action once you experience its symptoms.
The first symptom for encephalitis is fever and headache. While these might be typical symptoms, do not wait until these turn into seizures, drowsiness, confusion, or worse, coma. Other symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, and problems with speeches.
The sickness occurs to anybody. It does not pick a specific age or gender. In fact, younger patients with encephalitis have the tendency to recover faster compared with older patients. This is because older people have a higher risk of having complications.
Two Types of Encephalitis
There are different types of encephalitis including Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and tick-borne encephalitis. But the two main types are primary and secondary.
- Primary encephalitis. It usually occurs when the virus goes to the spinal cord and brain. The illness comes from a bacteria or fungi.
- Secondary encephalitis. It is the type of disease that starts in any part of your body and goes to the brain. It happens when your immune system fails to respond to a previous infection and instead attacks your brain.
Causes of Encephalitis
As mentioned earlier, encephalitis comes from bacteria or viruses. Below are the different viruses that can cause this life-threatening disease.
1. Herpes Simplex
It is a virus also known as HSV that can cause herpes. It usually appears in different parts of your body, specifically the mouth and genitals. Usually, this virus is passed from person to person. Once you have acquired this virus, it has the tendency to travel from your mouth to your brain, causing encephalitis.
Just like herpes simplex, mumps is a contagious virus that is passed from one person to another. It primarily affects the salivary glands and then travels to different parts of your body to your brain. The usual symptoms of this virus are body aches, fatigue, and headache.
3. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
It is one of the most common viruses that come from the herpes family. There are also researches that claim that most people have the tendency to have this virus. It comes from the saliva that can pass through your blood.
HIV is a virus that has no cure yet. Once you have attained this virus, your immune system will start to weaken. When this happens, your body will not be able to fight off bacteria. The virus is transmitted through body fluids such as blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids.
5. CMV Esophagitis
This virus is part of the Epstein-Barr, shingles, and herpes families. The scary thing about this virus is that it can live in your body for years without any symptoms. Once it activates, your immune system will weaken and thus you will experience the symptoms such as nausea, fever, and diarrhea, to name a few.
This type of virus come from mosquitos. In fact, there are different types of encephalitis that you can get from arboviruses:
- Kyasanur forest disease
- California encephalitis
- Colorado encephalitis
- St. Louis encephalitis
- Eastern equine encephalitis
- West Nile virus
Coxsackievirus and poliovirus are included in this type of virus. It can cause abdominal pain, flu-like symptoms, and eye inflammation.
8. Childhood infections
Children who were not injected by vaccines have a high risk of getting viruses that can cause encephalitis. This is why it is important to watch out for rubella, chicken pox, and measles. These viruses are usually the main cause of secondary encephalitis.
Getting these viruses can be difficult when you have a strong and healthy immune system. Also, other factors that can give you a risk of having this disease are age, the season of the year, and even your location.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Having Encephalitis
Since most of the viruses that can cause encephalitis are transmitted person to person, you have a lot of ways to keep yourself away from encephalitis. One way could be through keeping a good hygiene. You must wash your hands regularly, especially after using the toilet and before and after eating.
Another would be by not sharing utensils. Although that would be difficult if you are in a dorm or eating outside, just be sure that you cleanse the utensils that you are about to use using hot water. You can also get vaccinations, especially for your kids. You can even opt for getting a vaccine shot before going to a far destination.
But if you are more worried about getting arboviruses, you can apply mosquito repellents and insecticides. More importantly, make sure that you do not keep stagnant water outside your home so insects and mosquitos do not have a reason to linger near you.
Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, can be a tricky life-threatening disease, especially since it comes from various viruses. The disease can attack directly to your brain or it will come from other parts of your body then to your brain. In addition, you will know that you have this disease through its symptoms such as fever and headache.
Once these symptoms turn into seizure or coma, then it is recommended that you check your condition with your doctor. Otherwise, you can keep yourself away from this disease by maintaining a good hygiene and staying away from mosquitos.
Diseases like encephalitis can attack you any time, regardless of your age or gender. This is why it is better to keep yourself body safe at all times.