Reye’s syndrome is a rare disorder that causes brain and liver damage. Although it can happen at any age, it is most often seen in children.
Reye’s syndrome usually occurs in children who have had a recent viral infection, such as chickenpox or the flu. Taking aspirin to treat such an infection greatly increases the risk of Reye’s.
Aspirin has been linked with Reye’s syndrome, so use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers for fever or pain. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin.
The symptoms of Reye’s syndrome usually occur in the immediate few days after recovering from a viral infection.
The National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation have broken the symptoms down into four stages, although they stress that often, these symptoms in infants do not follow a pattern.
▪︎ Stage 1 symptoms:
• persistent vomiting
• signs of brain dysfunction
• listlessness or little interest in things
• lack of energy
• rapid breathing
▪︎ Stage 2 symptoms:
• aggressive behavior
• other personality changes
▪︎ Stage 3 symptoms:
• irrational behavior
▪︎ Stage 4 symptoms:
Although there has been extensive research into the cause of Reye syndrome, medical professionals still do not completely understand it. As mentioned above, the use of aspirin or aspirin-containing medications to treat children with some viral infections, including chickenpox, influenza, and gastroenteritis, is associated with the development of the disease. Ultimately, the causes of symptoms associated with Reye syndrome relate to dysfunction of the liver and a resultant increase in serum ammonia levels and other toxins. These toxins cause increased pressure in the brain and swelling, leading to brain dysfunction and can progress to death.
Fatty acid oxidation disorders are a group of inherited metabolic disorders in which the body is unable to break down fatty acids because an enzyme is missing or not working properly. A screening test is needed to determine if your child has a fatty acid oxidation disorder.
Risk Factors –
The following factors — usually when they occur together — may increase your child’s risk of developing Reye’s syndrome:
• Using aspirin to treat a viral infection, such as flu, chickenpox or an upper respiratory infection
• Having an underlying fatty acid oxidation disorder
Complications & Long Term Problems –
Early detection and treatment is key to a full recovery, with later diagnosis sometimes leading to permanent brain damage and disability. Those who have lapsed into a coma also have a poorer outlook.
Other long-term problems associated with Reye’s syndrome include:
• poor attention span and memory
• some loss of vision and hearing
• speech problems
• movement and posture difficulties
• swallowing problems
Doctors consider a diagnosis of Reye syndrome in any child who has unexplained brain dysfunction (encephalopathy), vomiting, and liver dysfunction. A history of a recent viral infection and aspirin use certainly supports the diagnosis.
In general, laboratory studies that reveal
• a prominent blood acidosis
• an increase in liver enzymes and ammonia levels
• marked decreases in serum glucose (hypoglycemia)
are supportive of the diagnosis.
However, it should be noted that other metabolic disorders can have with similar symptoms.
There is no known cure for Reye’s syndrome. However, early diagnosis and successful management can prevent severe complications, such as brain damage or cardiac arrest. Anyone diagnosed with Reye’s syndrome will be treated immediately in the intensive care unit (ICU).
With no cure, supporting the person’s body is the key to a successful outcome. This can include using the following:
• Electrolytes and fluids:
These keep the person hydrated and maintain the right salt, glucose, and nutrients levels.
This is medication to rid the body of excess fluid, such as swelling around the brain.
• Ammonia detoxicants:
These reduce the level of ammonia in the body.
These drugs control seizures that might occur.
• Mechanical ventilation:
This may be needed if breathing problems occur.
For more informative articles on other health related issues, please visit our website www.santripty.com and also feel free to consult.