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Metabolic Encephalopathy Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms include:

  • Confusion or agitation
  • Changes in behavior and personality
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle stiffness or rigidity
  • Tremor (particularly a flapping tremor of the hands)
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Asterixis (rapid momentary loss of tone in the muscles)
  • Uncontrollable movements or seizures (rare)
  • Stupor or coma

These problems can develop quickly. They may resolve when the condition is reversed. However, prompt treatment is needed before a coma occurs.


This condition is very serious. It can quickly become an emergency. You will need to be hospitalized. Doctors will do an exam to assess your neurological condition.

The following tests may be done:

  • Blood tests—usually show high blood ammonia levels and other abnormalities related to the failing liver
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)—may be used to determine how the brain has been affected
  • Imaging studies of the brain ( CT scan or MRI )—may be done to evaluate other causes

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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