What is Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis – Symptoms and Treatment

8 people per million individuals all over the world are diagnosed with the symptoms of a rare autoimmune disease of the brain known as Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Viral, bacterial or parasitic infections can cause this ailment. Children belonging to the age group 5-8 years are affected by it mostly, although people from all age groups can develop it.

50-75 percent people fully recover from this condition within an average time of one-six months. 70-90 percent people do recover but with a lifelong deformity. Five percent people loose their life owing to this condition.

Symptoms of Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM): The below mentioned signs of this condition become apparent within 1-3 weeks of being infected:

  • Delirium
  • Coma
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Sudden onset of the condition
  • Seizures
  • Ataxia
  • Stiff neck
  • Fever
  • Transverse myelitis
  • Optic Neuritis
  • Paralysis of a single limb
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Hemiplegia
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Drowsiness
  • Vision loss
  • Walking difficulty
  • Coordination problem

During the initial phase, these signs are mild. But, severity can increase within hours to day. On average, it takes four days for the signs to worsen. Most of the neurological symptoms are unresponsive to treatment options like steroid therapy.

Children respond more to the treatment than the adults. One of the challenges in dealing with the signs of this disease is that there is high risk of an individual with acquiring Multiple Sclerosis. The definition of the latter mentioned ailment is not clear among the medical fraternity. As a result, most of the physicians are not able to relate this condition with ADEM.

Treatment: The main aim of the treatment is stopping the inflammation of the Central Nervous System. Corticosteroids are inserted through the veins of the body to address this condition. This is the common first-line treatment of ADEM. It is applied for 3-6 weeks after which the dosages are reduced gradually. Other experimental trials for treating acute disseminated encephalomyelitis symptoms are under way.

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