Inflammation in the brain caused by an autoimmune response is treatable. But it can still create lasting health effects.
Autoimmune encephalitis (AIE) is a form of inflammation in the brain that’s triggered by your own immune system. It can be treated with medications to suppress your immune system if an accurate diagnosis is made and if treatment begins quickly.
This article will review the symptoms of AIE, how it’s treated, and what kind of recovery you can expect with this condition.
AIE isn’t really a single diagnosis, but a group of disorders triggered by an immune response.
These noninfectious disorders are the result of an immune reaction in which the body mistakenly attacks its own cells. This attack causes inflammation of the brain that can produce a variety of physical and neurological symptoms.
Although AIE is a known autoimmune condition, experts aren’t really sure what triggers this immune response in the first place.
There are many forms of encephalitis, the medical term for inflammation in the brain. It can be infectious in nature, but autoimmune varieties are about as common and share many of the same symptoms.
Specific symptoms can vary based on the cause of the
- memory changes
- vision changes
- speech changes
AIE usually appears suddenly, with the appearance of new symptoms like:
These symptoms usually make an appearance over a
As AIE progresses,
Most severe symptoms
Increased inflammation in the brain with AIE can affect many areas of the body and nervous system, leading to changes in blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and breathing patterns.
In the most severe cases, this could require
People who have weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of this kind of encephalitis.
Some of the most common infectious
- herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2
- arboviruses like West Nile virus
- Lyme disease
Presentation-wise, different types of encephalitis can be difficult to tell apart, leaving about
Diagnosis of AIE can be difficult because it shares symptoms with a variety of physical, neurological, and even psychological conditions.
- a neurological exam
- blood testing
- analysis of cerebrospinal fluid
- CT or MRI scan of the brain
The generic nature of AIE symptoms can also lead to misdiagnosis. One study found that as many as
Controlling the immune response by reducing antibodies is the primary treatment for AIE.
When aggressive treatments are used to calm the immune response and control inflammation, it’s possible to come out on the other side of AIE with only slight cognitive difficulties.
Without treatment, inflammation in the brain can cause a cascade of other problems requiring ongoing intensive medical treatment or supportive care.
AIE is one form of inflammation in the brain that could lead to a rapid onset of symptoms like memory difficulties and personality changes. Left untreated, this inflammation can cause difficulties with physical functions, such as breathing.
AIE is often misdiagnosed because it shares symptoms with many other conditions, but full recovery depends on an accurate diagnosis and early treatment.