Encephalitis is a serious condition and, although some people will make a good recovery, it can cause persistent problems and can be fatal.

For example, encephalitis due to the herpes simplex virus (the most common type of encephalitis) is fatal in one infive cases even if treated, and causes persistent problems in around half the people who have it.

The chances of successful treatment are much betterif encephalitis is diagnosed and treated quickly.

Common complications

Long-term problems can occur after encephalitis as a result of damage to the brain.

Some of the most common complications include:

  • Memory loss
  • personality and behavioural changes
  • speech and language problems
  • swallowing problems
  • repeated seizures (fits) known as epilepsy
  • emotional and psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression and mood swings
  • problems with attention, concentrating, planning and problem solving
  • problems with balance, co-ordination and movement
  • persistenttiredness

These problems can have a significant impact on the life of the affected person, as well as their family, friends and carers.

Support and rehabilitation

Recovering from encephalitis can be a long, slow and difficult process. Many people will never make a full recovery.

Specialised services are available to aid recovery and help the person adapt to any persistent problems this is known as rehabilitation.

Thismay involve support from:

  • a neuropsychologist a specialist in brain injuries and rehabilitation
  • an occupational therapist who can identify problem areas inthe person's everyday life and work out practical solutions
  • a physiotherapist who can helpwith movement problems
  • a speech and language therapist who can help with communication

Beforeleaving hospital,thehealth and care needs of the affected person will be assessed and anindividual care plandrawn up to meetthose needs.

Thisshouldinvolve a discussion with the affected person and anyone likely to be involved in their care,such as closefamily members.

See the care and support section for useful information and advice about caring for someone, including information that may be useful if you're new to caring.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Dec 2016