The Disease of a Mad Man: How to Treat Encephalitis Lethargic?

Updated at: Jun 12, 2014
The Disease of a Mad Man: How to Treat Encephalitis Lethargic?

Here is a look at a disease that is long forgotten. Understand what is Encephalitis Lethargica that was once an epidemic and know its treatment. The treatments largely depend on the symptoms.

Arka Roy Chowdhury
Other DiseasesWritten by: Arka Roy ChowdhuryPublished at: Jun 12, 2014

Much like folklore for the current times, Encephalitis Lethargica has been forgotten now. But the disease gave us a look inside brain function which is very much relevant to the current times.

The Encephalitis Lethargica is a disease the struck the human kind in the year 1916 and went on till the year 1926. It was an unusual and quite disturbing illness that had destroyed millions of lives throughout the world. The disease saw young people, women in particular to be most vulnerable to it, however, it affected people of all ages. An individual affected by this disease was at first typically stricken with sore throat and fever along with a headache. Let us take a closer look at the symptoms and how to treat it.

treatment for encephalitis lethargica

The Symptoms

The treatment for Encephalitis Lethargica is based on the symptoms and therefore it is necessary for us to understand the symptoms at first.

An individual who is stricken by the disease gets a sore throat and fever which is also accompanied by a headache. These discomforts tend to develop into more alarming problems such as double vision and severe weakness. Then the victims affected by this disease get struck by tremors, strange bodily movements, intense muscle pain and also delayed mental response. Basically this disease would make a living person a mad man.

The symptoms would then elevate and increase in severity and in spite of getting medical attention these patients’ conditions would worsen. They often went through severe behaviourial changes, and these included psychosis and hallucinations. This was then followed by drowsiness and lethargy. Patients would become completely unresponsive.

Patients who crossed adolescence had pathological changes of character that approached the psychotic. Those children between the ages of 5 and 10 years had impaired concentration and their restlessness would increase with time, there was a need for noise and complete lack of consideration for others. Then as they grew in strength all this escalated into violence and posed danger to themselves and others.

Some errant behaviours include destructiveness, lying, and self mutilation which in one case was the removal of eyes. At a more adolescent level these patients would manifest inappropriate and excessive sexuality without any regard for age or gender.

encephalitis lethargica and its treatment

The Treatment

The treatment for this disease is largely symptomatic. The treatment for encephalitis lethargic is patient stabilization at its early stages, but this again could be a challenging task. While some patients have shown some response, others have been largely unfortunate and this leads to progressiveness with some evidences of brain damage close to that found in Parkinson’s disease.  
Sometimes anti-Parkinson’s disease drugs have shown some results.

According to new evidences, researchers suggest that Encephalitis Lethargica could in fact be much common than we realise, and it most likely gets undiagnosed.

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