Encephalopathy is a term for any infection or other type of condition that changes brain function or structure. Encephalopathy may be caused by infectious agent (bacteria, virus, or prion), metabolic or mitochondrial dysfunction, brain tumor or increased pressure in the skull, prolonged exposure to toxic elements (including solvents, drugs, radiation, paints, industrial chemicals, and certain metals), chronic progressive trauma, poor nutrition, or lack of oxygen or blood flow to the brain. The hallmark of encephalopathy is an altered mental state.

Depending on the type and severity of encephalopathy, common neurological symptoms are

  • progressive loss of memory and cognitive ability,
  • subtle personality changes,
  • inability to concentrate,
  • lethargy; and
  • progressive loss of consciousness.

Other neurological symptoms may include myoclonus (involuntary twitching of a muscle or group of muscles), nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movement), tremor, muscle atrophy and weakness, dementia, seizures, and loss of ability to swallow or speak. Blood tests, spinal fluid examination, imaging studies, electroencephalograms, and similar diagnostic studies may be used to differentiate the various causes of encephalopathy.

What are the long term complications of Encephalopathy? Complications of encephalopathy vary from none to death.

  • hepatic (liver) encephalopathy – brain swelling with herniation, coma, death;
  • metabolic encephalopathy – irritability, lethargy, depression, tremors; occasionally coma or death;
  • anoxic (low oxygen) encephalopathy – wide range of complications, from personality changes, severe brain damage to death;
  • uremic (kidney related) encephalopathy – lethargy, hallucinations, stupor, muscle twitching, seizures, death;
  • hashimoto’s encephalopathy – confusion, heat intolerance, dementia;
  • wernicke’s encephalopathy – mental confusion, memory loss, decreased ability to move eyes;
  • shigella encephalopathy – headache, stiff neck, delirium, seizures, coma; and
  • infectious causes of pediatric encephalopathy – irritability, poor feeding, hypotonia or floppy baby syndrome, seizures, death.

Encephalopathy after vaccination has been linked to a wide range of serious and deadly conditions. If you or a loved one suffered from any of the above conditions after receiving a vaccination please contact our vaccine injury lawyers at 1-800-810-3457 or via our online contact form for a free legal consultation.


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