Home Diseases & Conditions Reye’s Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Reye’s Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment


Reye’s syndrome is a devastating but uncommon illness that results in liver and brain enlargement. Reye’s syndrome primarily affects kids and teenagers who are recovering from a viral infection, most frequently the flu or chicken pox.

Emergency care is needed for symptoms like confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Reye’s syndrome can be diagnosed and treated early enough to save a child’s life.

When providing aspirin to children or teenagers for a fever or pain, use caution because it has been associated to Reye’s syndrome. Although aspirin is safe to use in children above the age of three, it should never be administered to children or teenagers who are experiencing the symptoms of chickenpox or the flu.


In children with Reye’s syndrome, the blood sugar level usually falls while the ammonia and acidity levels rise. The liver may also enlarge and form fatty deposits at the same time. Additionally, the brain may swell, which can result in convulsions, seizures, or loss of consciousness.

Reye’s syndrome symptoms and indications often start to show three to five days following the onset of an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or a viral infection like the flu.

For children younger than age 2, the first signs of Reye’s syndrome may include: Diarrhea and Rapid breathing.

For older children and teenagers, early signs and symptoms may include: Persistent or continuous vomiting and Unusual sleepiness or lethargy.

Other signs and symptoms are seen as the condition becomes more severe. These include; Irritable, aggressive or irrational behavior, Confusion, disorientation or hallucinations, Weakness or paralysis in the arms and legs, Seizures, Excessive lethargy, Decreased level of consciousness.


The specific cause of Reye’s syndrome is unknown, although various factors may play a role in its development. Reye’s syndrome seems to be produced by using aspirin to treat a viral sickness or infection — particularly flu (influenza) and chickenpox — in children and teenagers who have an underlying fatty acid oxidation problem.

A set of inherited metabolic illnesses known as fatty acid oxidation disorders prevent the body from breaking down fatty acids because an enzyme is either absent or malfunctioning. To find out if your child has a fatty acid oxidation disease, a screening test is required.

Reye’s syndrome symptoms and indications occasionally may be imitated by an underlying metabolic disorder that has been covered up by a viral infection. The most frequent of these rare disorders is medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency. Exposure to certain toxins — such as insecticides, herbicides and paint thinner — may produce symptoms similar to those of Reye’s syndrome, but these toxins don’t cause Reye’s syndrome.

Risk Factors

The following factors usually when they occur together may increase your child’s risk of developing Reye’s syndrome:

1.Using aspirin to treat a viral infection, such as flu, chickenpox or an upper respiratory infection.

2.Having an underlying fatty acid oxidation disorder.


When a child or adolescent has Reye’s syndrome, the majority of them survive, albeit different degrees of lifelong brain damage are conceivable. Reye’s syndrome can be lethal in a matter of days without the right diagnosis and care.


When administering aspirin to kids or teenagers, exercise caution. Children and teenagers recuperating from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms shouldn’t take aspirin, even though it is safe to use in children older than age 3. Aspirin in its purest form and aspirin-containing drugs fall under this category.

To identify which infants are more likely to develop Reye’s syndrome, some hospitals and healthcare facilities check newborns for fatty acid oxidation abnormalities. Aspirin or goods containing aspirin shouldn’t be given to kids with recognized abnormalities of fatty acid oxidation.


When To See a Doctor

Early diagnosis and treatment of Reye’s syndrome can save a child’s life. If you suspect that your child has Reye’s syndrome, it’s important to act quickly by seeing a doctor.


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