Encephalitis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Encephalitis is a swelling (inflammation) in the brain, usually caused by a virus. The swelling changes the normal blood flow to the brain. This can cause confusion, a high fever, and a severe headache. Your child also may be sleepy and sensitive to light and may have nausea and a stiff neck and back. In the most serious cases, a child may have seizures or tremors.

Your doctor may prescribe medicine to help your child's body get rid of the virus. Your child may have some symptoms for several weeks or longer while his or her body slowly heals. Your doctor may recommend physiotherapy to help your child get stronger and active again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions on drinking fluids.
  • Make sure your child eats a healthy, balanced diet and gets plenty of rest to help his or her body heal.
  • Keep the lights dim if your child's eyes are sensitive to light.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has a seizure.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's symptoms return or get worse. These may include:
    • A fever.
    • A severe headache.
    • A stiff neck.
    • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Your child has fast, shallow breathing.
  • Your child suddenly has weakness in his or her muscles.
  • Your child is confused and cannot think clearly.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 19, 2016