Reye syndrome is a very rare but serious disease that is most
likely to occur in children younger than 15 years of age. The exact cause is not known, but
it is linked with children who have recently had chickenpox (varicella), a cold, or
flu (influenza) and taken aspirin.
The disease primarily targets
the brain and liver and can cause drowsiness, confusion, seizures, coma, and in
severe cases, death. The symptoms usually develop 3 to 7 days after the viral
illness starts. Reye syndrome is not contagious.
with Reye syndrome are treated in a hospital intensive care unit, and most
recover in a few weeks. But some children develop lasting brain damage. Early
treatment increases the chance for full recovery.
aspirin products should not be given to anyone younger than 20, unless they are
specifically prescribed by a doctor. Aspirin is also called acetyl salicylate,
acetylsalicylic acid, salicylic acid, salicylate, or subsalicylate. Aspirin
products are found in over-the-counter medicines such as Pepto-Bismol,
Kaopectate, and Alka-Seltzer.
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Chuck Norlin, MD - Pediatrics
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