You must have heard of diseases like encephalitis and meningitis.The other name in the list is scarlet fever. These diseases are different names of brain fever.
In general, brain fever is a mental condition which can take various forms. It results in inflammation of a part of the brain, causing fever-like symptoms.
Brain fever can affect both infants and adults. It is necessary to be aware about the symptoms of this deadly disease. Since, it poses a serious threat to life, you must be vigilant and visit your doctor if you suspect a case of brain fever.
If you are well-informed about the preventive measures and vaccines of this disease, you will be better equipped to avoid the same. It is also helpful to know the methods of diagnosis and treatment to guide friends or relatives affected by this disease.
Read further to find out more about the different types of brain fever. You will also find out the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, preventions and general information about each type in this article.
Table of Contents
Forms Of Brain Fever
The various forms of brain fever are –
It is most commonly caused by a viral infection and results in acute inflammation of the brain.
This is a condition of inflammation of membranes which cover the brain and spinal cord.
This is a condition of inflammation of cerebrum.
D. Scarlet Fever
This is an infectious disease. The symptoms are paranoia and hallucinations.
Let us now read about each type in detail.
Often caused by viral infection, encephalitis is sometimes also caused by bacterial infection. It results in an inflammation of the brain tissue.
Encephalitis can be primary or secondary.
A direct infection of the brain and spinal cord by the virus is known as primary encephalitis.
When the virus affects other parts of the body and travels to the brain thereafter, it is a case of secondary encephalitis. This is a rare but life-threatening disease.
Causes Of Encephalitis
This deadly disease can be caused by the following types of viruses.
1. Common Viruses
This type of encephalitis can be very dangerous and cause severe damage to the brain.
In developed countries, a virus called herpes simplex is most commonly the cause of encephalitis. This virus travels through a nerve to the skin. There it causes a cold sore. In some rare cases, however, it goes to the brain.
It will result in damage to the temporal lobe. The temporal lobe is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and speech. It can also affect the frontal lobe, the part of the brain controlling emotions and behaviour.
Some other viruses causing encephalitis are mumps, Epstein – Barr virus, HIV, and CMV.
2. Childhood Viruses
The common childhood viruses that cause encephalitis are chicken pox, measles, and rubella. However, nowadays vaccines prevent childhood viruses from causing encephalitis.
These are viruses borne by insects. These are of different types depending on the type of insect. For instance, the California encephalitis is transmitted by mosquito bites and generally affects children. West Nile Virus is mostly found in Africa and the Middle East.
For instance, the California encephalitis is transmitted by mosquito bites and generally affects children. West Nile Virus is mostly found in Africa and the Middle East.
West Nile Virus is mostly found in Africa and the Middle East. It’s relatively mild and causes flu – like symptoms. It can be fatal among adults and people with weak immunity.
Eastern equine encephalitis is spread by mosquito bites. It affects humans,as well as horses. It is rare but the survival rate is only 33 percent.
Kyasanur forest disease is caused by tick bites. It can also be caused if you drink raw milk from goats, sheep or cows.
Risk Factors For Encephalitis
Encephalitis is more likely to affect you if you have a weak immune system. You have a greater risk if you are an old adult.
Children under 1 year old also face the threat of this disease.
Further, if your living environment has too many mosquitoes or ticks, you are at a greater chance of contracting this disease.
Symptoms Of Encephalitis
The symptoms of encephalitis may range from mild to severe depending on different factors.
Mild symptoms include
- Stiffness in the neck
The more severe symptoms include
- Fever exceeding 103 degrees F
- Slow movements
- You can also experience a seizure
- Sensitivity to light
- In children, you should look out for symptoms like vomiting, poor appetite, stiffness in the body, constant crying or a soft spot in the scalp.
Diagnosis Of Encephalitis
If your doctor suspects a case of encephalitis after a study of your symptoms, he may conduct any of the following tests-
- Spinal Tap or Lumbar Puncture – In this test, a sample of the spinal fluid is taken. The doctor tests the same for signs of infection.
- MRI or CT scan – Your brain structure shall be tested for changes in shape.
- EEG or Electroencephalograph – An electrode is a small metal disc with wire. This test uses electrodes attached to the scalp to record the activity of your brain.
- Brain Biopsy – In this test, the doctor removes a sample of your brain tissue to test for infection. This is the case in the extreme cases.
Treatment Of Encephalitis
Treatment of encephalitis depends on its cause.
For encephalitis caused by the herpes virus, anti- viral medications are used.
For other types of encephalitis, the treatment is focussed on providing relief from symptoms. The treatments generally prescribed by doctors include
- Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation of the brain
- Mechanical ventilation to help with breathing
- Lukewarm sponge bath
- Anticonvulsants to prevent seizures
- Sedatives to counter restlessness and irritability
- Fluids, if needed through IV.
You may have to be hospitalised in some cases for treatment if you suffer from brain swelling or seizures.
Complications In Encephalitis
Since this is a life – threatening disease, you may suffer various complications if diagnosed with encephalitis.
Various complications include
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
- Physical Weakness
- Disability of mental functions
- Difficulty in muscle coordination
- Sensory organ issues
- Difficulty in breathing
- In worst cases, it results in death.
Complications have a higher chance of occurring if you did not get correct treatment immediately or you may experience coma – like symptoms.
It is not entirely possible to prevent encephalitis. However, for some precautions you can take vaccines, where available for viruses.
You must also make sure to have your children vaccinated. Lastly, you can avoid mosquito bites by using a mosquito repellent and dressing in full sleeves where there are too many mosquitoes.
A mild case of encephalitis might get cured within a few days. But, a severe case of encephalitis is likely to take up a few months to become better.
In worst cases, it can result in paralysis, permanent brain damage, speech, behaviour and memory problems. It can also cause death. You can opt for additional therapy like physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychotherapy for coping up with the disease better.
This is a very rare disease and affects about 100 people in a million in a year.
This disease affects delicate membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
Bacterial meningitis is contagious and spreads among people in close proximity. It is a very dangerous disease and can result in death.
Viral meningitis is known to be less severe and you might recover completely from it.
Fungal meningitis occurs in people with weak immune systems and is extremely rare.
Causes Of Meningitis
In most cases, meningitis is caused by bacterial or viral infection. These infections generally start in other parts of the body such as ears, sinuses or the upper respiratory tract.
Thereafter, they travel to the brain through the bloodstream.
Other causes which are rare are fungal infections and weak immune systems.
i. Bacterial Meningitis
This rare form of meningitis must be addressed immediately. It can cause the death of a person within a few hours.
Alternatively, it might lead to permanent damage in the brain or other body parts.
In children and adults in the US, the most common bacteria causing this disease are Neisseria meningitides and Streptococcuspneumoniae.
In older people with weak immune systems, Listeria monocytogenes is the most common bacteria causing meningitis.
Vaccines are available for bacteria affecting children and adults. You must consider taking these vaccines if you are at risk. Since this type of meningitis spreads by sneezing and coughing, you must take special care of a patient.
ii. Viral Meningitis
This is a more common type of meningitis. It is mostly less severe than the one caused by bacteria.
A number of viruses can be the cause of viral meningitis. It is possible to recover completely from such meningitis.
iii. Fungal Meningitis
This is the rarest form of meningitis. People with a weak immune system, such as affected by AIDS are at greatest risk of it.
Risk Factor For Meningitis
Almost everyone can be prone to meningitis.
But, it is found that children below 5 years of age, people aged between 16 and 25 and humans aged above 55 are at highest risk of this disease.
Also, if you happen to have a medical condition such as a damaged or missing spleen, a chronic disease or immunity disorders, you are likely to be at higher risk.
Since this disease is contagious, it is more common in places where people live in close proximity. Travelling to such areas could also put you at risk.
Symptoms Of Meningitis
Initially, the symptoms of meningitis might be similar to influenza. You must look out symptoms within a few hours to over a few days.
In anybody over the age of 2 years, the symptoms may include
- Sudden High Fever
- Stiffness in the neck
- Severe Headache
- Loss Of Appetite and thirst
- Skin Rashes.
- You may also experience sensitivity to light and difficulty in concentrating on anything.
In new born babies and infants, the signs may be
- High Fever
- Constant Crying
- Excessive Sleepiness.
- The child may not eat properly, be inactive or sluggish.
- You may also feel stiffness in the child’s body and neck or a bulge in the soft spot on the head.
- Another sign to look out for is if the child cries harder when held and is difficult to calm.
Diagnosis Of Meningitis
Your doctor may use your medical records along with physical examination and tests to ascertain if you are suffering from meningitis. The signs of infection may show around your head, ears, throat or skin along the spine. The doctor may conduct tests like –
- Blood Culture–In this test, a blood sample is placed on a dish to check for growth of microorganisms, especially bacteria. Alternatively, the doctor may place the blood sample on a special slide and examine it microscopically.
- Imaging – CT or MR scans of the head can show swelling or inflammation. X – ray or CT scans of the chest or sinus can also reveal infections in other parts which may be related to meningitis.
- Spinal Tap –This is the most comprehensive test for meningitis. In this, the doctor will collect a sample of CSF, i.e cerebrospinal fluid. If meningitis has to test positive, the same will have low glucose level along with a high WBC count and increased protein.
In the case of viral meningitis, the doctor shall require a PCR amplification test to be carried out. This test checks for antibodies against certain viruses to determine specific causes and determine treatment.
Treatment Of Meningitis
As meningitis is a life-threatening disease, it is necessary that you are admitted to the hospital immediately. There you shall receive antibiotics through IV until cured in the case of bacterial meningitis. To prevent the spread of this disease you may be kept in an isolated room for up to 2 days.
There you shall receive antibiotics through IV until cured in the case of bacterial meningitis. To prevent the spread of this disease you may be kept in an isolated room for up to 2 days.
Also, you may prefer a dark room since eyes become sensitive to light in the case of meningitis. You will be required to take in a lot of fluids and drugs to reduce
You will be required to take in a lot of fluids and drugs to reduce a headache and fever.
Viral meningitis cannot be cured through antibiotics.
It cures on its own. You may need to be at the hospital for a few days to receive supportive care and fluids through IV. This will prevent dehydration in your body.
Also, you might be given painkillers if needed.
In the case of fungal meningitis, you are given antifungal medicines along with plenty of fluids and drugs to relieve pain and fever.
Prevention Of Meningitis
Bacterial meningitis can be prevented with the help of following vaccines.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine – In the US, children are given this vaccine as a part of their vaccine schedule. Some adults are also required to take this vaccine, especially if they suffer from sickle cell disease or AIDS or do not have a spleen.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide Vaccine (PPSV23) – This type of vaccine prevents infection from pneumococcal bacteria. This vaccine is recommended for people above 65 years of age. Also, it is recommended for people above 2 years of age with poor immunity or a chronic disease.
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine –It is recommended that the first dose of this vaccine is given at age 11-12 and another booster dose at age 16. It is however, also safe for children as young as 9 months old and can be given before 11 years of age.
Other Ways Of Preventing Meningitis
There are also other ways to prevent meningitis by taking care of little things in everyday life such as –
1. Do Not Share Personal Items
Avoid sharing drinking vessels like glasses and water bottles. Also do not use the same straws, silverware, toothbrushes, lipsticks, lip gloss, etc. This is necessary to prevent spread of the disease through an affected individual.
2. Keep Distance from An Affected Person
The bacteria can spread by coughing or sneezing. So, it is important to maintain distance from a person who is infected. Also, to avoid spreading the disease yourself, always sneeze or cough into your handkerchief and wash your hands.
3. Keep Your Hands Clean
The bacteria may spread through your hands as well. It is necessary to use an antibacterial hand wash and vigorously clean the back and front of your hands. You can also use a hand sanitizer.
4. Keep your Immune System Healthy
Keep your general fitness up by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and whole grains. Also, exercise and sleep well to keep your immunity working.
5. Get Prompt Treatment
If you find any of the symptoms persist, do visit a doctor immediately. Delaying the same can prove to be fatal.
This type of brain fever causes a formation of an abscess inside the brain.
It causes inflammation of the cerebrum. The cerebrum performs a number of important functions in humans, such as memory and speech.
Cerebritis occurs due to an underlying condition in most people. People affected with lupus are more likely to suffer from cerebritis.
Lupus is a disease of the immune system wherein the healthy cells of the body are attacked by the body’s immune system. This disease may affect both adults and children.
The involvement of central nervous system may be momentary as in case of a migraine, or long lasting as in case of dementia.
Symptoms Of Cerebritis
The severity of the symptoms depends up on the level of swelling and on elevation of the intracranial pressure.
Symptoms Of Cerebritis Include
- Memory Loss.
- There may be inflammation of brain if the brain or the nervous system is attacked due to a weak immune system. The serious problems caused due to inflammation include seizures and headaches. It may also include vision problems, dizziness, behavior changes and even stroke.
Severe Symptoms Of Cerebritis Include
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Cerebellar ataxia.
- Failure of muscle coordination, usually on one side of the body and chorea.
- Stroke occurs in 3-20% of systemic lupus patients, and is highest in the initial five years of the disease. Peripheral neuropathy occurs in more than 20% of systemic lupus patients.About 10-15 percent of patients suffer from cranial nerve palsies.
Causes Of Cerebritis
Lupus is a major cause for cerebritis. In the US it is found that more than half of lupus patients suffer from cerebritis of varying degrees.
Autoimmune system problems like circulating immune complexes, anti – neuronal antibodies, Antiphospholipid antibodies and Cytokine release are responsible for cerebritis. These factors may act independently or in isolation to cause cerebritis.
In very rare cases, cerebritis may also be caused by a Klebsiella pneumoniae infection.
Cerebritis can also be caused by organisms like bacteria, viruses and others.
Infections can occur when infectious agents enter the brain. They enter through the sinuses or due to trauma.
Some pathogens are also capable of surpassing the blood–brain barrier.
Then, they enter the brain through the bloodstream. This happens despite the defence mechanism operation of our body.
Treatment Of Cerebritis
No cure is known for the condition of Lupus. But, Lupus cerebritis can be treated by suppressing the autoimmune activity of the body.
If cerebritis is caused due to infection, it is treated by medicines. This primarily cures the infection.
In case of inflammation, steroids are used. They reduce the swelling.
If it is due to excessive swelling, surgery might be needed. The formation of an abscess also requires surgery to drain the abscess.
2. Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever, or scarlatinais a infection caused by a bacteria called group A Streptococcus or “group A strep.” People who have strep throat or, rarely streptqococcal skin infections are likely to be affected by it. This is a rare disease.
It is curable with antibiotics and usually is a mild illness.
It needs to be treated to avoid serious health problems in the long run.
Treatment with antibiotics also helps remove symptoms faster and reduces spread to other people.
Causes Of Scarlet Fever
Group A strep bacteria can live in your nose and throat.
The bacteria are spread through contact with an infected person’s cough or sneeze. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these germs on it, you may contract the disease.
If you share eating vessels with the sick person, you could be affected as well.
It is possible to get scarlet fever from contact with sores from group A strep skin infections.
Risk Of Scarlet Fever
Although anyone can get scarlet fever, it usually affects children between 5 and 15 years old.
Symptoms Of Scarlet Fever
In this disease the most common symptom is red skin rashes. These are rough and feel like sandpaper on touch. It begins from the chest and stomach and spreads to other body parts.
The folds of skin on elbows and other joints darken more than the other rashes.
The rashes last for a maximum of seven days.
The symptoms may also include chills, headaches, fever, swollen tonsils, flushed face or a white tongue with red dots.
Prevention Of Scarlet Fever
The best way to keep from getting infected is to wash your hands often and avoid sharing eating utensils, toiletries or other personal items.
It is important for anyone with a sore throat to wash his hands often to prevent spreading of infection.
There is no vaccine to prevent strep throat or scarlet fever. Children with scarlet fever or strep throat should stay home at least 24 hours after starting a course of antibiotics.
Treatment Of Scarlet Fever
The usual cure for scarlet fever is through antibiotics. They kill bacteria and help the immune system of the body to fight infection-causing bacteria.
Aspirin which is available at chemist shops can help control fever.
Eating warm soup, ice creams etc might help. Gargling with warm water and salt and using an air humidifier can reduce pain in
Gargling with warm water and salt and using an air humidifier can reduce pain in a sore throat. It is necessary to keep hydrated and take in plenty of fluids.
Home Remedies For Brain Fever
You can try out a few remedies at home using easily available ingredients to reduce brain fever.
1. Tulsi Tea
Boil 5-6 tulsi leaves in a cup of water and strain. Drink the tea and repeat this about 4 times a day. Tulsi being an important ayurvedic ingredient has many healing properties. This will help
- Drink the tulsi tea and repeat this about 4 times a day.
- Tulsi being an important ayurvedic ingredient has many healing properties. This will help relieve fever.
- Also, you can try peppermint, yarrow, and elderflower. These ingredients also increase sweating and help in lowering body temperature.
2. Cayenne Pepper
During a fever, you can sprinkle some cayenne pepper on your food.
This pepper contains a very hot ingredient called capsaicin. This is helpful in making you sweat and increasing blood circulation.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
This is a common kitchen ingredient and very effective in reducing body temperature.
- Pour ½ cup of vinegar in lukewarm bathing water and soak in it for 20 minutes.
- Alternatively, you can mix a part of apple cider vinegar in two parts of cool water.Soak a cloth in this mixture and place it on your forehead and stomach or wrap it around your feet.
- Change the cloth when it warms up.Also, you can mix 2 tsp vinegar and 1 tbsp honey in a glass of water and drink it. Vinegar helps in drawing heat out of the body and replacing lost minerals.
4. Lime Tea
An easy way to bring fever under control is to soak a handful of raisins in a cup of water and crush them in it. Strain out the raisins. To this add the juice of half a lime. Drinking this water can help control fever.
To this add the juice of half a lime. Drinking this water can help control fever.Now, that we know of the different types of brain fever and their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments, we should be extremely vigilant in dealing with one.
It is important to consult a doctor in case of persistent fever and other symptoms.
Also, keeping your immune system healthy can help in preventing these diseases to a great extent. Hence, it is important for you to eat healthy food and exercise regularly.
Make it a habit not to share drinking glasses and the same straw.
Wash your hands religiously. Brain fever is a deadly disease and must be taken seriously if it ever affects you or anyone around you.