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Encephalopathy (cont.)

Encephalopathy Treatment

Treatment for encephalopathy varies according to the basic cause; for example, short-term anoxia may only require oxygen therapy, while uremic poisoning may require dialysis and a kidney transplant. Consequently, specific medications and treatment programs will be prescribed based upon the underlying disease. The first episode of encephalopathy should be evaluated immediately by a physician to potentially diagnose and treat the basic cause; such action may reverse or limit the symptoms and affect the prognosis for encephalopathy.

Other treatment scenarios include:

  • When patients present for the first time with confusion, lethargy, or other symptoms suggestive of decreased brain function, an initial cocktail of naloxone (Narcan) and glucose may be injected intravenously to treat quickly reversible narcotic drug overdose and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) -- if these are the causes of the patient's encephalopathy.
  • The ABCs of resuscitation are always evaluated (Airway, Breathing, Circulation). If the airway is compromised and the patient is unable to breathe adequately, endotracheal intubation may be considered. A tube is placed through the mouth into the trachea and a ventilator is used to breathe for the patient. The patient is usually unconscious or nearly so (obtunded) when this situation arises.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2016

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