Reye's Syndrome
En Español (Spanish Version)

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.

Causes
The cause of Reye syndrome is unknown.

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:
  • 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.

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:

Spinal Tap–Lumbar Puncture Method

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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:

Medication
Medications may help to:

  • Decrease inflammation
  • Lower pressure of fluid in the brain
  • Prevent seizures
  • Reduce vomiting
  • Reduce blood ammonia levels—may also require dialysis
Glucose and electrolytes will be given by IV.

Monitoring
The brain, heart, and lungs will be carefully monitored. This will help the doctor begin supportive treatments as soon as possible.

Advanced Care
As the condition progresses, more care may be needed. Some advanced care options include:

  • Ventilator—to take over breathing
  • Drainage procedure or decompression craniotomy—to reduce pressure in the brain
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.



RESOURCES:
American Academy of Pediatrics

National Reye's Syndrome Foundation

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Alberta Human Services

References:
Reye Syndrome. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/reye. Updated October 4, 2011. Accessed August 5, 2013.

Reyes Syndrome. National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/reyes_syndrome/reyes_syndrome.htm. Accessed February 28, 2013. Updated September 25, 2009. Accessed August 5, 2013.

What is Reyes Syndrome? National Reyes Syndrome website. Available at: http://reyessyndrome.org/what.html. Accessed August 5, 2013.

Last Reviewed August 2013



Health Information Library content is provided by EBSCO Publishing, fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

 

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

 

To send comments or feedback to EBSCO's Editorial Team regarding the content please e-mail healthlibrarysupport@ebscohost.com.