Reye's Syndrome

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Reye's syndrome facts

  • Reye's syndrome is a rare and severe illness affecting children.
  • Reye's syndrome is associated with viral infection and aspirin use.
  • Patients with Reye's syndrome present with vomiting and mental-status changes.
  • Diagnosing Reye's syndrome primarily depends on the clinical history of symptoms.
  • The most common abnormal laboratory tests with Reye's syndrome include elevated liver enzymes, elevated ammonia levels, and low serum glucose levels.
  • Treatment is supportive, and even with treatment severe cases result in permanent brain damage and death.
  • Since educating parents about the dangers of aspirin use, the incidence of Reye's syndrome has decreased markedly.

What is Reye's syndrome?

Reye's syndrome is a rare but often severe and even fatal illness that primarily occurs in children and adolescents. Children diagnosed with Reye's syndrome generally present with vomiting and mental-status changes. The illness can resolve spontaneously or progress to coma and death. Although the cause is still unclear, studies have identified that there is a relationship between some viral infections and the use of aspirin medications. The CDC recommended educating parents about the dangers of treating children with aspirin in the 1980s, and now the disease occurs very rarely. The syndrome was initially described in 1963 by Dr. Ralph Douglas Reye.


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Reye's Syndrome - Experience and Concerns Question: Do you avoid taking aspirin and giving it to your children for fear of developing Reye's syndrome? Please share your concerns.
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Prevention of Reye's Syndrome

What to Do if You Get the Flu

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

The flu is a serious illness that can be fatal in people whose immune systems are weakened, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions. Each year 30,000-35,000 people die in the U.S. from the flu or its complications. Even healthy people who develop the flu cannot work, attend school, or participate in normal activities for several days. Complications of the flu can develop in anyone and include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, or bronchitis. These bacterial infections can develop as a complication of the flu because the body's immune system is weakened from the illness.

If you get the flu, there are treatments that can reduce both the intensity and duration of your suffering:

  • Over-the-countermedications such as pain relievers, decongestants, and antihistaminescan reduce the severity of your symptoms, but these are not treatments for the viral infectionitself. There are over-the-counter flu preparations available that combine these types of medications. (Remember that aspirinshould not be given to those under 18 years of age because of its association with Reye syndrome, a serious condition that affects the nervous system and the liver.)



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