What's the treatment for encephalitis?
Because encephalitis can cause death, seek treatment in a hospital's emergency department. Any home treatment to relieve the flulike symptoms should be carried out according to the doctor's advice and recommendation after diagnosis.
Choice of treatment for encephalitis will depend on the cause. Bacterial encephalitis is treated with antibiotics. Viral encephalitis is usually treated with antiviral drugs including acyclovir, ganciclovir, foscarnet, ribovarin, and AZT. Viruses that respond to acyclovir include herpes simplex, the most common cause of sporadic (non-epidemic) encephalitis in the United States.
The symptoms of encephalitis may be treated with a number of different drugs. Corticosteroids, including prednisone and dexamethasone, are sometimes prescribed to reduce inflammation and brain swelling. Anticonvulsant drugs, including dilantin and phenytoin, are used to control seizures. Fever may be reduced with acetaminophen or other fever-reducing drugs.
Herpes encephalitis can cause rapid death if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Therefore, medication is usually started when the doctor suspects herpes to be the diagnosis without waiting for the confirmatory results. The recommended treatment is acyclovir (Zovirax) given by IV for 2-3 weeks. Acyclovir-resistant herpes encephalitis can be treated with foscarnet (Foscavir). Liver and kidney functions are monitored through the course of medication.
A person with encephalitis must be monitored carefully, since symptoms may change rapidly. Blood tests may be required regularly to track levels of fluids and salts in the blood.