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Aside from patients who present with an acute poisoning that requires short-term intervention, most patients with encephalopathy will need life-long care and monitoring. Establishing a relationship with a primary care doctor will allow appropriate monitoring of specific disease states, regulation of medications and diet to help prevent acute flares of encephalopathy, and decrease the potential for gradual decline in mental function.
Some encephalopathies are preventable by positive lifestyle choices and others cannot be foreseen. For example, hepatic encephalopathy from liver failure due to alcoholism may be prevented with a patient's commitment to abstinence from alcohol and use of medical care and community support to prevent or minimize the risk of relapse. Liver failure from other illnesses and congenital or accidental trauma that results in encephalopathy may not be preventable.
Research continues to assist in understanding brain function and understanding the mechanisms that can cause encephalopathies. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke helps coordinate ongoing clinical trials.
Some encephalopathies may be easily reversible, while others can progress and cause permanent structural changes in the brain and even death; the outlook depends on the underlying cause of encephalopathy and its potential for treatment.
Medically reviewed by Jon Glass, MD; American board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2016
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