Metabolic Encephalopathy Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Metabolic encephalopathy is a condition of cerebral function that is diffuse but has the potential to be reversible. It frequently disrupts the state of arousal as well as cognitive performance, and it can be caused by either a metabolic or a toxic source. Changes in arousal, including drowsiness or agitation, are frequent in people experiencing acute onset of metabolic disruption.

This condition both rules out dementia and alerts the clinician to the possibility that metabolic issues should be considered in the search for a cause. In contrast, arousal is typically unaffected when a metabolic disorder develops subtly over weeks or months. Then, it could be challenging to discern between dementia and metabolic encephalopathy.

Moreover, the two conditions frequently coexist among the elderly. When they are both present, chronic metabolic encephalopathy is the part of cognitive impairment that can be fixed in dementia that develops slowly.

Metabolic Encephalopathy Definition

An alteration in consciousness that is induced by diffuse or global brain dysfunction as a result of altered cerebral metabolism is commonly referred to as metabolic encephalopathy. This condition is the most common cause of disrupted consciousness in systemic disorders.

Metabolic Encephalopathy Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Metabolic Encephalopathy Symptoms

The following are typical indicators and symptoms of metabolic encephalopathy:

  • The most typical sign of metabolic encephalopathy is generally thought to be delirium. It is characterized by clouded thinking, disturbed attention, and frequently abnormal speech and hallucinations.
  • Dementia
  • Ataxia (difficulty coordinating with motor actions) 
  • Jaundice
  • Low level of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Agitation
  • Impulsive Illusions
  • Lower sensitivity to the environment
  • Mood issues
  • disordered thinking and memory
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • irregular heartbeat

Metabolic Encephalopathy Causes

The most common causes of encephalopathy are acid-base imbalances and electrolyte imbalances. Some of the most prevalent causes of a lowered state of awareness include hyponatremia, hypernatremia, and hypercalcemia. These encephalopathies are reversible in the majority of cases; however, quick restoration of hyponatremia should be discouraged in order to reduce the risk of osmotic demyelination syndrome.

There are numerous potential causes of metabolic encephalopathy. The most frequent ones include toxic substances, ischemia, hypoxia, and systemic diseases. Chronic disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, anemia, and alveolar hypoventilation all cause hypoxia. Most cases of ischemia can be traced back to some sort of cardiovascular disorder.

Metabolic Encephalopathy Treatment

In order to cure metabolic encephalopathy, it is necessary to treat the underlying condition that was identified through the analysis of neurological signs and symptoms. In cases of thyrotoxic crisis-related encephalopathy, plasmapheresis has been suggested as an adjunct to the conventional treatment of glucocorticoids.

Dialysis is a standard therapy for uremic encephalopathy. This type of encephalopathy is always associated with other metabolic conditions rather than occurring independently. So, in these cases, the clinical presentation is always a mix of the signs and symptoms of several metabolic abnormalities.

The remedy for hyponatremia implicates fluid limitation and sodium deficit replacement. However, correction of serum sodium concentration should be restricted to a maximum of 12 mEq/L/day because intense replacement may result in central pontine myelinolysis (CPM) and promotes the progression of encephalopathy.

Metabolic Encephalopathy Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Metabolic Encephalopathy Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Reviewed by Simon Albert on January 08, 2023 Rating: 5
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