Reye's Syndrome

Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India
First Created: 01/02/2001  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

What is Reye’s syndrome?

It is a disorder marked by coma or altered consciousness due to brain damage (encephalopathy) and associated liver damage (without jaundice).

What are the symptoms of Reye’s syndrome?

Reye’s syndrome usually occurs in a previously healthy child. There may be mild viral flu which is followed by recovery. After that within 5-7 days, there may be severe vomiting followed by delirium, altered consciousness within a few hours. The patient may progress to develop seizures (fits) and coma. Your doctor may find that the liver is enlarged though there is no jaundice.

How is the diagnosis of Reye’s syndrome made?

Though clinically your doctor may suspect Reye’s syndrome, he may order for certain tests. Elevated blood ammonia levels are usually recorded. Liver enzymes in the blood will be elevated and blood sugar may be low in younger children.

Why does Reye’s syndrome occur?

It has been found that the use of aspirin as an anti-fever medication in patients with influenza or chickenpox can precipitate Reye’s syndrome. In some forms, genetically identified metabolic disorders can also lead to Reye’s syndrome. Elevated ammonia seems to be the cause of liver damage and subsequent brain abnormalities. Other metabolites may also be responsible.

What is the treatment of Reye’s syndrome?

Treatment consists of measures to decrease the pressure in the brain as increased brain pressure can lead to death. Patients are treated with fluid restriction, glucose infusions, blood products such as plasma, vitamin K, and amino acids such as ornithine, arginine to decrease ammonia levels.

How can Reye’s syndrome be prevented?

Avoiding aspirin in patients with influenza infection or chickenpox may help to prevent Reye’s syndrome. However, some patients may have a genetic tendency towards the same.

Reye's Syndrome Reye's Syndrome 2015-08-01
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