Encephalopathy: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 3/26/2021

Encephalopathy is a term that refers to brain disease, damage, or malfunction.

The main signs and symptoms of encephalopathy are related to altered function of the brain. Symptoms can be related to the exact cause and severity of the condition. Possible symptoms and signs associated with encephalopathy include an

  • altered level of consciousness,
  • amnesia,
  • inability to speak or understand language,
  • lack of concentration,
  • mental confusion,
  • slowness in activity, or
  • problems with coordination.

Other signs and symptoms can include

  • rhythmic muscle contractions or spasms,
  • overactive reflexes,
  • abnormal breathing pattern,
  • coma,
  • delirium,
  • flapping hand tremor,
  • personality change,
  • rapid involuntary eye movement, or
  • seizures with no outward symptoms.

Causes of encephalopathy

The causes of encephalopathy include infections, anoxia, metabolic problems, toxins, drugs, physiologic changes, injury or trauma, and others.

Other encephalopathy symptoms and signs

  • Abnormal Breathing Pattern
  • Altered Level of Consciousness
  • Amnesia
  • Coma
  • Delirium
  • Flapping Hand Tremor
  • Inability to Speak or Understand Language
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Mental Confusion
  • Overactive Reflexes
  • Personality Change
  • Problems with Coordination
  • Rapid Involuntary Eye Movement
  • Rhythmic Muscle Contractions or Spasms
  • Seizures with No Outward Symptoms
  • Slowness in Activity


The abbreviated term ADHD denotes the condition commonly known as: See Answer

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.