How Long Does Encephalopathy Last?

Reviewed on 2/16/2022
Rendering of a brain with fragments on one half
How long encephalopathy lasts varies, depending on the cause and severity. Causes of encephalopathy that may be reversible include liver disease, thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s encephalopathy), diabetes, kidney failure, heart failure, infection, brain tumor, exposure to toxic elements, seizures, increased pressure in the skull, and poor nutrition.

Encephalopathy refers to disease or damage of the brain that affects brain function or structure. 

For some causes of encephalopathy, the brain changes are reversible and, in some cases, the damage is permanent. How long encephalopathy lasts varies widely and depends on the cause and severity. 

Causes of encephalopathy that may be reversible include:

Causes of encephalopathy that may not be reversible include:

What Are Symptoms of Encephalopathy?

17 symptoms of encephalopathy include: 

  • Altered mental state
    • Difficulties with cognitive ability
    • Progressive loss of memory 
    • Inability to concentrate 
    • Subtle personality changes
    • Lethargy
    • Drowsiness
    • Progressive loss of consciousness
  • Neurological symptoms 
    • Involuntary twitching of a muscle or group of muscles (myoclonus)
    • Rapid, involuntary eye movement (nystagmus)
    • Muscle weakness and atrophy
    • Tremor
    • Dementia
    • Seizures
    • Difficulty speaking
    • Loss of ability to swallow 

How Is Encephalopathy Diagnosed?

Encephalopathy is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination and tests such as:

  • Neuropsychological testing
    • Memory
    • Concentration
    • Focus
    • Organization 
    • Mental tasks
  • Blood tests
  • Spinal fluid examination
  • Imaging tests
  • Electroencephalograms

What Is the Treatment for Encephalopathy?

Treatment for encephalopathy depends on the cause, the type, and the severity and may be aimed at relieving symptoms. Treatments may include: 

  • Anticonvulsants to treat seizures
  • Diet changes
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Dialysis for kidney problems
  • Organ transplant surgery
Reviewed on 2/16/2022
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