What is the outlook for a patient you know who had encephalopathy?
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What is the prognosis (outlook) for encephalopathy?
The prognosis for a patient with encephalopathy depends on the initial causes and, in general, the length of time it takes to reverse, stop, or inhibit those causes. Consequently, the prognosis varies from patient to patient and ranges from complete recovery to a poor prognosis that often leads to permanent brain damage or death. This highly variable prognosis is exemplified by patients that get encephalopathy from hypoglycemia. If patients with hypoglycemia are given glucose at the first signs of encephalopathy (for example, irritability, mild confusion), most patients recover completely. Delays in correcting hypoglycemia (hours to days) may lead to seizures or coma, which may be halted by treatment with complete or partial recovery (minimal permanent brain damage). A long delay or multiple delays in treatment can lead to a poor prognosis with extensive brain damage, coma, or death.
Although the symptoms and time frame vary widely from patient to patient and according to the initial causes of encephalopathy (see above sections for examples of causes), the prognosis of each case usually follows the pattern described in the hypoglycemic example above and depends upon the extent and rapidity with which the underlying cause is treated. The doctor or team of doctors treating the underlying cause of encephalopathy can offer the best information on the individual's prognosis.