Reye’s syndrome most commonly affects children under the age of 15. It usually starts about a week after a viral infection, such as a cold, flu, or measles. Doctors are still not sure what exactly is causing Reye’s syndrome. However, research shows that Reye’s syndrome can be activated if aspirin is given to children for the treatment of viral diseases.
Children who develop Reye’s syndrome tend to get better after a common viral infection. But not long after, things changed for the worse. They start vomiting, often feeling unwell or drowsy. In just a few hours, the children become nervous, confused and irritable. In some cases, the symptoms may be absent at first. But as the disease gets worse, the symptoms get more severe, and in the most severe cases, deep coma can occur.
Reye’s syndrome can become a very serious health condition. If parents suspect the possibility of this disease, they are advised to seek immediate medical attention.
Although Reye’s Syndrome can affect any organ in the body, it is most harmful to the brain and liver. If treated promptly there is a good chance of recovery. Therefore, it is best to seek professional medical attention, as doctors in hospitals can respond quickly to any health problems that may arise. They can help reduce swelling in the brain, reducing the risk of permanent brain damage.
The etiology and pathogenesis of the disease have not been fully elucidated. It is assumed that this is a congenital deficiency or a reduced amount of enzymes involved in ureagenesis. The disorder is characterized by encephalopathy, impaired liver function and hyperammonemia (increased ammonia in the blood). In 25-50% of cases it is a fatal outcome.
The symptoms of Reye’s syndrome appear a few days after the onset of the flu or chickenpox. The patient has frequent and abundant vomiting that persists for more than 12 hours. Fever may also be a symptom of the syndrome, but this sign may likewise be a symptom of early-stage viral disease.
In the case of Reye’s syndrome, vomiting and fever are accompanied by disorders related to brain dysfunction (gaze, amazement, strange behavior, delirium, apathy, irritability, sleepiness). If the patient does not receive assistance quickly, the loss of consciousness can degenerate into convulsions and coma.
For the diagnosis of Reye’s syndrome, it is considered whether there is any unexplained brain dysfunction (encephalopathy), vomiting and liver dysfunction in a child. A recent viral infection and aspirin use certainly support the diagnosis. In general, laboratory studies that reveal an increase in liver enzymes and ammonia levels and a marked decrease in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) increase the certainty of the diagnosis. However, it should be noted that other metabolic disorders can exhibit similar symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no absolutely effective treatment for Reye’s syndrome. First, the treatment is aimed at reducing the effects of metabolic dysfunction. Patients with Reye’s syndrome are hospitalized in an intensive care unit and monitored to prevent a worsening of the neurological and metabolic conditions. The primary goal is to manage electrolyte imbalances and brain edema. It is difficult to predict which patients may be affected by the progressive disease, however, it is advisable to use some drugs that tend to reduce ammonia levels (a substance that is known to be one of the causes of brain swelling). In addition, in some cases of progressive and difficult to placate Reye’s syndrome, hemodialysis is used to remove toxins, which are believed to be partly responsible for swelling of the brain.