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The Naked Truth The Sexual Health Blog

Herpes and encephalitis

July 25th, 2011 by Carla

Brain Diagram

Study: herpes increases risk of brain inflammation

by Sabine Kortals, Editorial Director

What is encephalitis? It’s a disorder marked by swelling and inflammation of the brain…and people who test positive for herpes could be more likely to suffer from its potentially debilitating effects (e.g., tremors, muscle degeneration, paralysis or diminished cognitive function).

That’s according to a recent study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Medical Journal. Researchers analyzed the records of more than 200 people with encephalitis symptoms and found that about 42% of the cases were caused by infections…and about 19% of this group developed encephalitis because they had herpes.

The statistics may sound gloomy, but this new information encourages doctors to be more vigilant in monitoring people with herpes…the sooner encephalitis is detected, the more effectively it can be treated before serious health problems have a chance to develop.

To reduce your risk of getting herpes in the first place, we recommend that you’re mutually monogamous, ideally with a person who has tested negative for STDs…or who has been tested and treated for any STDs, if necessary. We also recommend that you use a latex condom or a dental dam every time you have sex. And if you’re sexually active, get screened for STDs annually…if your test results are positive, we’re here to help. You’ll have the opportunity to consult with a Clinic physician on the phone right away.

Remember, herpes is not life-threatening in adults and, depending on the severity of herpes outbreaks, no treatment may be necessary. If needed, oral antiviral medications are safe and effective, and can prevent or shorten the duration of outbreaks and lower the chances of spreading the infection to others.

Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Mark Strozier

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