Toxic Encephalopathy

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What is Toxic Encephalopathy

Accidental exposure to toxins lead to thousands of emergency room visits each year and can result in brain injury. Repeated exposure to small amounts of carbon monoxide over time can build up and cause damage. In houses, common sources of carbon monoxide include older furnaces, dryers, gas and kerosene space heaters, gas and wood stoves, and other fuel-burning appliances and devices. Motor vehicles are also a source of carbon monoxide, and poorly ventilated garages may let this invisible, odorless gas seep into the home.

Although carbon monoxide may be the most prevalent toxin that human beings come into contact with, it is not the only one. Chemicals like lead and mercury can also be toxic. Exposure to molds, cleaning solvents, pesticides, and even air fresheners can sometimes be harmful. Of course, some toxic episodes result from drug and alcohol abuse, and over time, repeated substance abuse can lead to toxic brain injuries, as well.

Common Symptoms

Toxic brain injuries can produce any number of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue

  • Emotional disorders

  • Mild euphoria

  • Mood swings

  • Depression

  • Impaired memory

  • Movement disorders

  • Stupor

  • Dizziness or light headedness

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Seizures

Impacted Areas of the Brain

The regions of interest on SPECT include a majority of all cortical regions, and the globus pallidus in Carbon monoxide poisoning. Based on medical literature, signature patterns for toxic encephalopathy is a nonspecific patchy, diffuse pattern on the cortex, and sometimes is shown in subcortical regions, if exposure was severe.

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