Reye Syndrome – Causes, Possible Outcome, Symptoms and Treatment

Reye Syndrome

, is a rare condition, that is predominantly found in kids between the age of 4 and 14 years. A rare disease would be one which has an occurrence ratio of 1 in 2000. Never the less, it is a serious state of illness and is associated with liver and brain damage. It has been found to have occurred in children who have been treated with aspirin in viral infections particularly those of the upper respiratory tract, influenza, chicken pox or gastroenteritis. However, there are reports of its incidence even without the use of aspirin. Early detection and immediate attention is the key to a full recovery.

Causes of Reye Syndrome

  • A proven connection has been established between the use of aspirin in viral illnesses and this condition. It causes cellular damage in the liver and brain. The chemical composition of aspirin could cause cells in the liver and brain to change adversely. Thus, aspirin is generally not recommended for use among children and teenagers. In the US, a prescription is necessary to buy aspirin or aspirin containing product for anyone under 19.
  • Oral mouth care product Bonjela known to have salicylates are also banned from use on children as a preventive measure.

Possible Outcome of the condition

    The disease has the potential to cause the following damages if not treated:

    • Fatty Liver.
    • Inflammation of liver.
    • Enlargement and firmness in liver.
    • Physiological changes in kidneys.
    • Brain damage and dysfunction.
    • Altered mental state like that of lack of concentration, lethargy and depression.
    • Swelling and accumulation of fluids in the intracellular cavities of the brain.
    • Seizures.

    Symptoms of Reye Syndrome

    This condition is more of a syndrome and not a disease because the symptoms indicating it are very broad and often found in a lot of other ailments. Reye syndrome manifests itself with symptoms across 5 stages which are as follows:

    • Stage I

      – Confusion, lethargy, skin rashes, fever, headaches vomiting without any reason.

    • Stage II

      – Hyperactivity in children, altered mental state like that of being in a daze, palpitations, hyperventilation and fatty liver.

    • Stage III

      – Persistent Stage I and Stage II symptoms, coma, accumulation of fluids in the cellular cavities of the brain and respiratory distress.

    • Stage IV

      – Deep coma, not showing response to light along with dilation of pupils and liver dysfunction.

    • Stage V

      – Hypercritical comatose state, seizures, multiple organ failure, excess ammonia in blood
      and eventually death.

    Treatment of Reye Syndrome

    • Hospitalization is generally required to make a recovery.
    • Treatment is supportive as there is no cure for it.
    • Ventilation may be required in case of respiratory distress.
    • Intra cranial pressure needs to monitored and relieved from time to time.
    • Steroids may be needed to reduce brain swelling.
    • Diuretics may be needed to expel excess fluids from the body.

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