Learn about the disease, illness and/or condition Wernicke's Encephalopathy (Encephalopathy) including: symptoms, causes, treatments, contraindications and conditions at ClusterMed.info.
Wernicke's Encephalopathy (Encephalopathy)
|Wernicke's Encephalopathy (Encephalopathy)|
Wernicke's Encephalopathy (Encephalopathy) Information
Encephalopathy definition and overview
Encephalopathy is a term that means brain disease, damage, or malfunction. Encephalopathy can present a very broad spectrum of symptoms that range from mild, such as some memory loss or subtle personality changes, to severe, such as dementia, seizures, coma, or death. In general, encephalopathy is manifested by an altered mental state that is sometimes accompanied by physical manifestations (for example, poor coordination of limb movements). The term encephalopathy, in most cases, is preceded by various terms that describe the reason, cause, or special conditions of the patient that leads to brain malfunction. For example, anoxic encephalopathy means brain damage due to lack of oxygen, and hepatic encephalopathy means brain malfunction due to liver disease. Additionally, some other terms either describe body conditions or syndromes that lead to a specific set of brain malfunctions. Examples of these are metabolic encephalopathy and Wernicke's encephalopathy (Wernicke's syndrome). There are over 150 different terms that modify or precede "encephalopathy" in the medical literature; the purpose of this article is to introduce the reader to the main categories of conditions that fall under the broad term of encephalopathy.
For more information on types of encephalopathy
Can encephalopathy be prevented?
Many cases of encephalopathy can be prevented. The key to prevention is to stop or limit the chance of developing any of the multitudes of causes of encephalopathy. If encephalopathy develops, the quicker the underlying cause is treated, the more likely that severe encephalopathy can be prevented. Examples of prevention (and situations to avoid) are listed below:
How is encephalopathy diagnosed?
The diagnosis of encephalopathy is usually made with clinical tests done during the physical examination (mental status tests, memory tests, and coordination tests) that document an altered mental state. In most cases, findings on clinical tests either diagnose or presumptively diagnose encephalopathy. Usually, the diagnosis occurs when the altered mental state accompanies another primary diagnosis such as chronic liver disease, kidney failure, anoxia, or many other diagnoses. Consequently, physicians may utilize several different tests at the same time to diagnose both the primary condition (the cause of encephalopathy) and the encephalopathy itself. This approach to diagnosis is done by most physicians, because encephalopathy is a complication that occurs because of a primary underlying health problem. The most frequently utilized tests are listed below with some of the major primary causes the tests may help diagnose:
What are the complications of encephalopathy?
Complications of encephalopathy vary from none to profound mental impairments that lead to death. The complications can be similar in some cases. Also, many investigators consider encephalopathy itself to be a complication that arises from a primary health problem or primary diagnosis. Complications depend on the primary cause of encephalopathy and can be illustrated by citing a few examples from the wide variety of causes:
What are the symptoms of encephalopathy?
Despite the numerous and varied causes of encephalopathy, at least one symptom present in all cases is an altered mental state. The altered mental state may be subtle and develop slowly over years (for example, in hepatitis the decreased ability to draw simple designs, termed apraxia) or be profoundly obvious and develop rapidly (for example, brain anoxia leading to coma or death in a few minutes). Often, symptoms of altered mental status can present as inattentiveness, poor judgment, or poor coordination of movements. Other serious symptoms that may occur include:
What causes encephalopathy?
The causes of encephalopathy are both numerous and varied. Some examples of causes of encephalopathy include:
What is the prognosis (outlook) for encephalopathy?
The prognosis for a patient with encephalopathy depends on the initial causes and, in general, the length of time it takes to reverse, stop, or inhibit those causes. Consequently, the prognosis varies from patient to patient and ranges from complete recovery to a poor prognosis that often leads to permanent brain damage or death. This highly variable prognosis is exemplified by patients that get encephalopathy from hypoglycemia. If patients with hypoglycemia are given glucose at the first signs of encephalopathy (for example, irritability, mild confusion), most patients recover completely. Delays in correcting hypoglycemia (hours to days) may lead to seizures or coma, which may be halted by treatment with complete or partial recovery (minimal permanent brain damage). A long delay or multiple delays in treatment can lead to a poor prognosis with extensive brain damage, coma, or death. Although the symptoms and time frame vary widely from patient to patient and according to the initial causes of encephalopathy (see above sections for examples of causes), the prognosis of each case usually follows the pattern described in the hypoglycemic example above and depends upon the extent and rapidity with which the underlying cause is treated. The doctor or team of doctors treating the underlying cause of encephalopathy can offer the best information on the individual's prognosis.
What is the treatment for encephalopathy?
Treatment of encephalopathy varies with the primary cause of the symptoms. Consequently, not all cases of encephalopathy are treated the same. Some examples of different "encephalopathy treatments" for different causes:
Diseases & Illnesses Definitions Of The Day
- Contact Dermatitis ‐ Can contact dermatitis be prevented?, Contact dermatitis facts …
- Prostate Cancer ‐ Bisphosphonates, Bone-targeted therapy, Castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (MCRPC) …
- Turner-like Syndrome (Noonan Syndrome) ‐ How common is Noonan syndrome?, How do people inherit Noonan syndrome? …
- Breast Infection: Breastfeeding (Breastfeeding: Common Breastfeeding Challenges) ‐ Breast infection (mastitis), Breastfeeding a baby with health problems …
- Antibiotic-Resistant Tuberculosis XDR-TB (Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR TB)) ‐ Are immigrants putting the U.S. at increased risk for TB?, Can the TB vaccine (BCG) help prevent XDR TB? …
- Feeling Baby Kick (Fetal Movement: Feeling Baby Kick Week-by-Week) ‐ Fetal movement introduction, How Often Should I Feel My Baby Moving? …
- Alpha-fetoprotein Blood Test ‐ In which situations are high blood (serum) levels of AFP used as a tumor marker? …
- Strained Voice (Hoarseness) ‐ Hoarseness facts, How are the causes of hoarseness diagnosed? …
- EAggEC (Enterovirulent E. Coli (EEC)) ‐ A new EEC group? (E. coli 0104:H4), Enterovirulent E. coli (EEC) facts …
- Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome ‐ Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) facts, How can hemolytic uremic syndrome be prevented? …