Reye's (Reye) syndrome may be a rare but serious condition that causes swelling within the liver and brain. Reye's syndrome most often affects children and teenagers recovering from a viral infection, most commonly the flu or chickenpox.
Signs and symptoms like confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness require emergency treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment of Reye's syndrome can save a child's life.
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 to be used in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin.
For the treatment of fever or pain, consider giving your child infants' or children's over-the-counter fever and pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) as a safer alternative to aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
Signs and symptoms
As the condition progresses, signs and symptoms may become more serious, including:
Ø Irritable, aggressive or irrational behavior
Ø Confusion, disorientation or hallucinations
Ø Weakness or paralysis in the arms and legs
Ø Excessive lethargy
Ø Decreased level of consciousness
The exact explanation for Reye's syndrome is unknown, although several factors may play a task in its development. Reye's syndrome seems to be triggered by using aspirin to treat a viral illness or infection — particularly flu (influenza) and chickenpox — in children and teenagers who have an underlying fatty acid oxidation disorder.
Fatty acid oxidation disorders are a gaggle of inherited metabolic disorders during which the body is unable to interrupt down fatty acids because an enzyme is missing or not working properly. A screening test is required to work out if your child features a carboxylic acid oxidation disorder.
In some cases, the symptoms and signs of Reye's syndrome could also be duplicated by an underlying metabolic condition unmasked by a viral illness. The most frequent of those rare disorders is medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency. Exposure to certain toxins — like insecticides, herbicides and paint thinner — may produce symptoms almost like those of Reye's syndrome, but these toxins don't cause Reye's syndrome.
The following factors — usually once they occur together — may increase your child's risk of developing Reye's syndrome:
Ø Using aspirin to treat a viral infection, such as flu, chickenpox or an upper respiratory infection
Ø Having an underlying fatty acid oxidation disorder
Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved to be used in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This includes plain aspirin and medications that contain aspirin.
Some hospitals and medical facilities conduct newborn screenings for carboxylic acid oxidation disorders to work out which children are at greater risk of developing Reye's syndrome. Children with known carboxylic acid oxidation disorders shouldn't take aspirin or aspirin-containing products.
Always check the label before you give your child medication, including over-the-counter products and alternative or herbal remedies. Aspirin can show up in some unexpected places, like Alka-Seltzer.
Sometimes aspirin goes by other names, too, such as:
Ø Acetylsalicylic acid
Ø Salicylic acid
For the treatment of fever or pain associated with the flu, chickenpox or another viral illness, consider giving your child infants' or children's over-the-counter fever and pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) as a safer alternative to aspirin.
There's one caveat to the aspirin rule, however. Children and teenagers who have certain chronic diseases, like Kawasaki disease, may have long-term treatment with drugs that contain aspirin.
If your child needs aspirin therapy, confirm his or her vaccines are current — including two doses of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and a yearly flu vaccine. Avoiding these two viral illnesses can help prevent Reye's syndrome.
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