What is Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)?
Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that attacks myelin – the insulating sheath that encapsulates nerve cells. Myelin allows for the efficient transmission of electrical impulses along nerve cells. When the myelin is damaged – a process called demyelination – this transmission is affected and the conduction of nerve signals can be disrupted or lost.
The onset of Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is generally rapid and intense, and typically begins with encephalitis-like symptoms that can be either mild (i.e. fever, fatigue, headache) or severe (seizures, coma). The affected individual also experiences neurological symptoms, including weakness (sometimes to the point of paralysis), confusion, drowsiness, vision problems, and tingling or numbness.