Reye's Syndrome

Reye syndrome is a serious but rare condition. It causes a buildup of fat and swelling in most organs. Reye is most harmful to the liver and brain. It tends to occur during recovery from a viral infection.

  • Causes

    The cause of Reye syndrome is unknown.

  • Definition

    Reye syndrome is a serious but rare condition. It causes a buildup of fat and swelling in most organs. Reye is most harmful to the liver and brain.

    It tends to occur during recovery from a viral infection.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Blood tests
    • Spinal tap
    • Biopsy
    Spinal Tap–Lumbar Puncture Method
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  • Prevention

    The exact cause of Reye syndrome is not known, but the following may decrease the risk of Reyes syndrome:

    • Do not give aspirin to children and teens with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving aspirin to a child or teen.
    • Avoid giving children and teens medications that contain salicylates. Examples include Alka-Seltzer, Anacin, Bufferin, and Pepto-Bismol.

  • Risk Factors

    Reye syndrome occurs most often in children aged 2-16 years, but it can occur in anyone. Factors that may increase the risk of Reye syndrome include:

    • Use of
      aspirin
      or other salicylates,
      especially in children during viral illness like the flu or chickenpox

    • Recent viral illness, including:

      • Influenza
      • Chickenpox
      • Upper respiratory infection
    • Fatty acid oxidation disorder
    • Exposure to certain toxins

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms usually occur after a viral illness and may include:

    • Frequent or persistent vomiting
    • Drowsiness and fatigue
    • Personality changes, such as irritability and aggression
    • Confusion
    • Disordered speech
    • Hallucinations
    • Convulsions
    • Rapid or deep breathing
    • Loss of consciousness

    Later symptoms may progress to:

    • Coma
    • Seizures
    • Inability to breathe without help

    Call a doctor right away if you or your child has any of these symptoms, especially after a viral infection.

  • Treatment

    Early diagnosis and treatment are important for a successful recovery.

    Treatment is focused on protecting the brain and other organs from damage. Options include: