Reye’s Syndrome

December 22 21:27 2019 Print This Article

Reye’s Syndrome is a disease which affects all organs of the body, but most lethally the liver and the brain. It affects all organs of the body but is most harmful to the brain and the liver–causing an acute increase of pressure within the brain and, often, massive accumulations of fat in the liver and other organs. The syndrome had been reported as early as 1929 but now was identified and characterized as a distinct entity. In Reye’s syndrome, the level of ammonia and acidity in the blood typically rises while the level of blood sugar drops.

It can eventually lead to a coma and brain death. The syndrome has been associated with the use of aspirin to treat chickenpox or the flu in children. The decrease in the number of cases of Reye’s syndrome was once thought to directly correspond to a decrease in aspirin use but that surmise has since come under some scrutiny. It occurs when abnormal accumulations of fat develop in the liver and other organs of the body, along with a severe increase of pressure in the brain. The use of ASA (Acetylsalicylic Acid) has been strongly linked with the development of RS.

Symptoms usually develop 1-14 days after a viral infection. Reye’s Syndrome is a two-phase illness because it is almost always associated with a previous viral infection, such as influenza, cold, or chicken pox. RS is often misdiagnosed as encephalitis, meningitis, diabetes, drug overdose, poisoning, sudden infant death syndrome, or psychiatric illness.

RS is defined as a two-phase illness because it generally occurs in conjunction with a previous viral infection, such as the flu or chicken pox. The discovery of inborn errors of metabolism that have manifestations similar to those of Reye syndrome and a dramatic decrease in the use of aspirin among children have made the diagnosis and occurrence of Reye syndrome rare. It is still not well understood. No single diagnostic test to detect Reye syndrome currently is available.Better tests can diagnose metabolic conditions formerly thought to be Reye’s syndrome.

Causes of Reye’s Syndrome

The comman causes of Reye’s Syndrome include the following:

  • Low blood sugar.
  • It is thought that taking aspirin can either trigger Reye’s syndrome, or make it worse. Children under 16 should not take aspirin.
  • High levels of acid and ammonia in the blood.
  • Changes in mental status occur including delirium, combative behavior, and coma.
  • Buildup of fat and swelling in the liver and swelling of the brain.
  • Upper respiratory infection.

Symptoms of Reye’s Syndrome

Some sign and symptoms related to Reye’s Syndrome are as follows:

  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Unusual sleepiness or lethargy
  • Combative behavior
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Double vision
  • Speech difficulties
  • Nausea and vomiting, becoming more severe after 8-12 hours
  • change in personality – your child may become irritable or aggressive, or start to scream and struggle
  • A history of preceding URI or chickenpox (about 1 week previously)
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Muscle function loss or paralysis of the arms or legs

Treatment of Reye’s Syndrome

Here is list of the methods for treating Reye’s Syndrome:

  • Insulin: Small amounts of insulin can increase sugar metabolism.
  • Corticosteroids to reduce brain swelling.
  • Diuretics (drugs that help your body get rid of excess fluid) to reduce brain swelling.
  • Acetaminophen should not be taken by anyone with known liver or kidney disease. Do not drink alcohol when taking more than 1 dose of acetaminophen.
  • Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with food or milk to prevent stomach irritation.
  • When this illness was more common, high-technology treatments such as charcoal hemoperfusion (to filter out blood toxins) were used with some success.
  • Diuretics: A diuretic, such as mannitol, can increase fluid loss through urination and help reduce brain swelling.