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Reye Syndrome


Reye syndrome

is a rare, but serious condition that can cause injury to your child's brain, liver, or other organs. The cause is unknown. Your child may develop Reye syndrome after a viral infection such as the flu or chickenpox. Your child's risk for Reye syndrome is increased if he takes medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates. Reye syndrome most commonly happens to children 4 to 14 years of age.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

Symptoms may appear after your child begins to get better from a viral infection. Symptoms may also appear after your child takes medicines that contains aspirin or salicylates. Your child may have any of the following:

  • Repeated vomiting or diarrhea
  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Fussiness or irritability
  • Trouble breathing or breathing faster than usual
  • Confusion, muscle weakness, or seizures

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child cannot be woken.
  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child takes medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates.
  • Your child is confused and very irritable.
  • Your child does not stop vomiting.
  • Your child is very weak or has trouble walking.
  • Your child's stomach is painful and larger than usual.
  • Your child urinates less than usual or not at all.
  • Your child's head is sunken in, or he does not make tears when he cries.

Contact your child's healthcare provider:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child does not want to eat.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment for Reye's syndrome

may depend on how severe it is. Early treatment may help prevent damage to your child's brain, liver, and other organs. Your child may need medicines to decrease swelling in his brain or prevent seizures or bleeding. IV fluids may be given to treat dehydration and increase his blood sugar or electrolyte levels. Electrolytes include potassium, sodium, and calcium. Other medicines or procedures may be needed to treat or prevent life-threatening problems.

Prevent Reye's syndrome:

  • Do not give your child aspirin or medicines that contain aspirin. Read the label on medicine before you give it to your child. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen. These substances may be in cold medicines, herbal supplements, or vitamins. Ask your child's healthcare provider which medicines are safe for your child.
  • Ask your child's healthcare provider about vaccines. Vaccines can prevent infections such as the chickenpox or the flu.


Have your child rest. Ask when your child can return to his normal activities or school.

For support and more information:

  • National Reye's Syndrome Foundation, Inc
    426 N Lewis St
    Bryan , OH 43506
    Phone: 1- 800 - 233-7393
    Web Address:

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.