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After-effects of encephalitis

Nerve cells may be damaged or destroyed by both the infection and inflammation. The resulting damage is termed acquired brain injury (ABI). There will be a wide variation in how encephalitis affects the person. No two people will have the same outcome. The loss of brain function from ABI can range from minor, to more significant, impairments. The degree and type of damage will vary according to the cause and severity of the inflammation, the parts of the brain affected and any delay in treatment. There may be cognitive, physical, emotional and/or behavioural problems.

You can read about all the after-effects in the booklet Encephalitis:after-effects, recovery and rehabilitation or you can read below about specific types of after-effects: cognitive, physical, emotional and/or behaviour and social consequences. Please don’t forget to tell us what you think about the information you read by completing the short feedback form on each page.

Cognitive changes after encephalitis

Cognition refers to mental processes such as attention, memory, language, problem solving, decision making, planning and organisation. Following encephalitis, an individual will experience changes in these mental abilities to varying degrees and, in turn, may have difficulties in their everyday activities.

Emotional and behavioural changes

Following encephalitis, some people may experience emotional and behavioural changes including low mood, increased anxiety, depression, mood swings, frustration, aggression, impulsivity, disinhibition, and/or poor emotional regulation.

Physical difficulties after encephalitis

Fatigue is one of the most common problems people experience after encephalitis. Weaknesses, difficulty controlling their movement, seizures, sensory changes, pain, changes in sexual functioning and hormonal changes can be experienced by people after having had encephalitis.

Seizures and encephalitis

Seizures are common during the initial stages of encephalitis, when people are typically quite unwell in hospital and some patients go on to develop epilepsy after encephalitis.

Social consequences of encephalitis

Following encephalitis, it is common for people to experience changes in their thinking, behaviour and feelings. These changes may make it difficult to take part in everyday activities such as work, driving, running a household, or making plans with friends or family.

The after-effects research project

This project summary presents findings from a research project into the after effects and social consequences of encephalitis.

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One person is diagnosed with encephalitis every minute, and life for them and their family will never be the same again. Make a donation today and help us build a world aware of encephalitis, its consequences and the support available.

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Page Created: 22 November 2023
Last Modified: 22 November 2023
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