Bisola Badmus, a well-known Yoruba film actress, recently announced her struggle with encephalopathy, a brain disorder.
The actress revealed that she had been dealing with the ailment for over a year.
Encephalopathy refers to any brain disease that affects brain function or structure.
Anyone, from babies to adults, can be affected by this condition. However, it is more common in those over the age of 65.
What is encephalopathy?
Any brain disorder that changes the function and structure of the brain is referred to as encephalopathy.
It occurs when there is a change in the way your brain works or when something in your body affects your brain. These changes cause issues such as confusion and memory loss.
Encephalopathy is a set of illnesses caused by a variety of factors. However, if not treated, it might result in temporary or permanent brain damage.
What are the types of encephalopathy?
There are two types of encephalopathy; reversible and irreversible encephalopathy.
Types of irreversible encephalopathy include;
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
This type of encephalopathy occurs when there are multiple traumas or head injuries, which damage the brain. These injuries lead to nerve damage in the brain.
It is usually found in athletes or members of the military who have been injured in explosions.
- Glycine encephalopathy
Glycine encephalopathy is a rare genetic or inherited type of encephalopathy.
There are excessively high quantities of an amino acid called glycine in this disease. Glycine is a chemical messenger in the brain that sends impulses.
Seizures, hiccups, and breathing difficulties are common symptoms of glycine encephalopathy in infants shortly after delivery.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
This condition is a type of brain damage that is caused by a lack of blood flow and oxygen in the brain.
This can result in permanent brain damage or dysfunction. This type of encephalopathy is mostly seen in newborns. It can be caused by exposure to alcohol or drugs in the womb.
According to a study, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is one of the major causes of mortality and chronic neurological disability in newborns.
Reversible encephalopathy include;
- Hepatic encephalopathy
Hepatic encephalopathy is a result of severe liver disease and dysfunction. When your liver is unable to remove toxins from your blood as well as it should, they build up in your body.
So this makes it hard for your brain to work well.
- Hypertensive encephalopathy
Hypertensive encephalopathy results from severely high blood pressure that goes untreated for too long.
This can cause your brain to swell, leading to brain damage.
- Uremic encephalopathy
Uremic encephalopathy is associated with kidney failure. It occurs due to the accumulation of uremic toxins in the blood, affecting the brain and causing various neurological symptoms.
- Wernicke encephalopathy
Also known as Wernicke’s disease, is a result of vitamin B-1 deficiency.
Alcohol intake and malnutrition can cause this type of encephalopathy. If this condition is not treated quickly, it can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome — chronic memory disorder.
- Toxic-metabolic encephalopathy
This type of encephalopathy is caused by infections, toxins, or organ failure.
The brain function can be affected when hormones or other chemicals in the body aren’t not functioning normally.
This encephalopathy resolves when the underlying chemical imbalance is restored or the infection/toxin is removed.
What are the causes of encephalopathy?
From the types of encephalopathy listed above, the causes of this condition can be deduced.
However, here are the causes of encephalopathy.
- Liver dysfunction
- Brain tumor
- Head injury
- Malnutrition/ vitamin deficiency
- Kidney failure
- Toxic exposure including alcohol toxicity, environmental toxins
- Genetic factors
What are the symptoms of encephalopathy?
The symptoms of this condition can be severe or mild depending on the cause. Major symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble speaking and swallowing
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of consciousness
How can encephalopathy be treated?
The treatment for encephalopathy varies depending on the primary cause of the encephalopathy.
Treatment may vary from medications to surgery. Some of the treatments for encephalopathy include;
- Medications like antibiotics, antiviral, antiseizure.
- Dialysis or an organ transplant if liver or kidney problems are causing your condition
- Nutritional supplements
- Treating of underlying illness
Can encephalopathy be prevented?
Yes, encephalopathy can be prevented through changes in certain lifestyle habits.
However, not all encephalopathy can be prevented particularly the irreversible types.
So you can prevent encephalopathy by:
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Reducing exposure to toxic substances and chemicals
- eating a healthy diet
- seeing your doctor regularly
Living a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk factors for encephalopathy.