Encephalitisneeds tobe treated urgently. Treatment involves tackling the underlying cause, relieving symptoms and supporting bodily functions.

It's treated in hospital usually in an intensive care unit (ICU) , whichis for people who are very ill and need extra care.

How long someone with encephalitis needs to stay in hospital can range from a few days to several weeks or even months.

Thisdepends on howwell treatment works and if any complications of encephalitis occur.

Treating the cause

If a cause of encephalitis is found, treatment to deal with this will start immediately.

Possible treatments include:

  • antiviral medication used if encephalitis is caused by the herpes simplex or chickenpox viruses; it's usually given into a vein three times a day for two to three weeks
  • steroid injections used if encephalitis is caused by a problem with the immune systemand sometimes in cases linked to the chickenpox virus; treatment is usually for a few days
  • immunoglobulin therapy medication that helps control the immune system, whichmay be needed if steroids don't help
  • plasmapheresis a procedurewhich removes the substancesthat are attacking the brainfromthe blood, which may beneeded if immunoglobulin therapy doesn't help
  • surgery to remove abnormal growths (tumours)done if encephalitiswas triggered by a tumour somewhere in the body
  • antibiotics or antifungal medication used if encephalitis is caused by a bacterial or antifungal infection

If there's no treatment for the underlying cause, treatment is givento support thebody, relieve symptoms,and allow the best chance of recovery (see below).

Other treatments

Encephalitis puts a lot of strain on the body and can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms.

Most people need treatment to relieve these symptoms and to support certain bodily functions until they're feeling better.

This may involve:

  • fluids given into a vein to prevent dehydration
  • painkillers to reduce discomfort or a fever
  • medication to control seizures (fits)
  • medication to help the person relax if they're very agitated
  • oxygen given through a face mask to support the lungs sometimes a machine called a ventilator may be used to control breathing
  • medication to prevent a build-up of pressure inside the skull

Occasionally,surgery to remove a small piece of the skull may be needed if the pressure inside increases and medication isn't helping.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Dez 2016