Learn About Reye Syndrome

What is the definition of Reye Syndrome?

Reye syndrome is sudden (acute) brain damage and liver function problems. This condition does not have a known cause.

This syndrome has occurred in children who were given aspirin when they had chickenpox or the flu. Reye syndrome has become very rare. This is because aspirin is no longer recommended for routine use in children.

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What are the causes of Reye Syndrome?

There is no known cause of Reye syndrome. It is most often seen in children ages 4 to 12. Most cases that occur with chickenpox are in children ages 5 to 9. Cases that occur with the flu are most often in children ages 10 to 14.

What are the symptoms of Reye Syndrome?

Children with Reye syndrome get sick very suddenly. The syndrome often begins with vomiting. It may last for many hours. The vomiting is quickly followed by irritable and aggressive behavior. As the condition gets worse, the child may be unable to stay awake and alert.

Other symptoms of Reye syndrome:

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Mental changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Unusual placement of arms and legs (decerebrate posture). The arms are extended straight and turned toward the body, the legs are held straight, and the toes are pointed downward

Other symptoms that can occur with this disorder include:

  • Double vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Muscle function loss or paralysis of the arms or legs
  • Speech difficulties
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
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What are the current treatments for Reye Syndrome?

There is no specific treatment for this condition. The health care provider will monitor the pressure in the brain, blood gases, and blood acid-base balance (pH).

Treatments may include:

  • Breathing support (a breathing machine may be needed during a deep coma)
  • Fluids by IV to provide electrolytes and glucose
  • Steroids to reduce swelling in the brain
Who are the top Reye Syndrome Local Doctors?
Highly rated in

University Of Alberta

Cross Cancer Institute, 116 St & 85 Ave 
Edmonton, AB, CA T6G2V

Deepak Dinakaran is in Edmonton, Canada. Dinakaran is rated as a Distinguished expert by MediFind in the treatment of Reye Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 1 other condition, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Reye Syndrome and Liver Failure.

Highly rated in

Université Paris Descartes

Service De Pédiatrie Et Maladies Du Métabolisme 
Paris, FR 75015

Anais Brassier is in Paris, France. Brassier is rated as a Distinguished expert by MediFind in the treatment of Reye Syndrome. She is also highly rated in 26 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Lysosomal Acid Lipase Deficiency, Wolman Disease, Reye Syndrome, and Cholesteryl Ester Storage Disease.

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Highly rated in

Selcuk University

Istanbul, TR 

Sukru Arslan is in Istanbul, Turkey. Arslan is rated as a Distinguished expert by MediFind in the treatment of Reye Syndrome. They are also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Reye Syndrome, Serum Sickness, Poststreptococcal Glomerulonephritis, and Reflux Nephropathy.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Reye Syndrome?

How well a person does depends on the severity of any coma, as well as other factors.

The outcome for those who survive an acute episode may be good.

What are the possible complications of Reye Syndrome?

Complications may include:

  • Coma
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Seizures

When untreated, seizures and coma may be life threatening.

When should I contact a medical professional for Reye Syndrome?

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) immediately if your child has:

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Other mental changes
How do I prevent Reye Syndrome?

Never give a child aspirin unless told to do so by your provider.

When a child must take aspirin, take care to reduce the child's risk of catching a viral illness, such as the flu and chickenpox. Avoid aspirin for several weeks after the child has received a varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.

Note: Other over-the-counter medicines, such as Pepto-Bismol and substances with oil of wintergreen also contain aspirin compounds called salicylates. DO NOT give these to a child who has a cold or fever.

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What are the Latest Advances for Reye Syndrome?
Reye Syndrome with Severe Hyperammonemia and a Good Neurological Outcome.
Atypical Reye syndrome: three cases of a problem that pediatricians should consider and remember.
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Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : August 29, 2020
Published By : Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Aronson JK. Acetylsalicylic acid. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier B.V.; 2016:26-52.

Cherry JD. Reye syndrome. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 50.

Johnston MV. Encephalopathies. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 616.