Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis
Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, are similar to multiple sclerosis. As a result, the disease is often misdiagnosed as a severe attack of multiple sclerosis. There are key differences, however, between the symptoms of ADEM and MS, which can be recognized by a neurologist.

Initial symptoms of ADEM occur quickly and intensely as a single, short-lived attack, though some children experience recurrent episodes over a period of months. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Changes in your child's consciousness — such as seizures or in severe cases, coma — as well as behavioral changes such as irritability are also likely.

Other symptoms are caused by myelin damage and include:

  • Difficulty coordinating muscle movements
  • Visual disturbances
  • Weakness of a single limb or one side of the body

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Pediatric Brain Center

Multiple Sclerosis Center
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor, 5A
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-3939
Fax: (415) 353-3543
Appointment information