Is Encephalopathy Permanent?

Reviewed on 2/9/2021

What Is Encephalopathy?

Encephalopathy is a general term for any injury to the brain. Whether it's permanent or not depends on the type or severity of the brain damage.
Encephalopathy is a general term for any injury to the brain. Whether it’s permanent or not depends on the type or severity of the brain damage.

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. 

What Are Symptoms of Encephalopathy?

Symptoms of encephalopathy include: 

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

What Causes Encephalopathy?

Causes of encephalopathy include:

  • Infection
  • Metabolic or mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Brain tumor 
  • Increased pressure in the skull
  • Prolonged exposure to toxic elements (such as solvents, drugs, radiation, paints, industrial chemicals, and certain metals)
  • Chronic progressive trauma
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of oxygen or blood flow to the brain

How Is Encephalopathy Diagnosed?

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

  • Neuropsychological testing
    • Concentration
    • Memory
    • 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
  • Changes to diet 
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Dialysis for kidney problems
  • Organ transplant surgery

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Reviewed on 2/9/2021
References
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Encephalopathy-Information-Page

https://lecom.edu/content/uploads/2020/03/14-Encephalopathy-Types-Causes-Symptoms-and-Treatment.pdf