What is it?

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is an inflammation that damages myelin, which is the material that covers the nerve fibers. It is more common in children. ADEM is thought to be an autoimmune condition but it is not known what triggers it. It could start after an infection like a cold or a stomach bug, or after getting a vaccine. ADEM is an attack, usually happening once unlike other diseases affecting myelin, like multiple sclerosis.

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Signs & symptoms

ADEM symptoms include fever, headache, sleepiness, confusion, irritability, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, trouble with balance or movement, vision problems, slurred speech, numbness or paralysis in one side of the body, seizures and coma.


Diagnosis is based upon findings from medical history and physical examination. Further evaluation may include spinal tap, brain MRI, and blood tests


Treatment includes corticosteroids given intravenously, and plasmapheresis. Sometimes, after hospitalization these children will need physical, occupational or speech therapy.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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