What Is Reye's Syndrome?

Question: What is Reye's syndrome?

Answer: Reye's syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by dysfunction of cells in the liver and the brain. And it's typically characterized by severe vomiting, nausea and drowsiness in the setting of a viral illness. It's typically seen in the children between the ages of 3 to 12 years of age, and occurs in the setting of a viral illness such as the chicken pox, the flu or the common cold.

Typically the symptoms of Reye's syndrome will develop three of four days after a viral illness, and it's felt to be due to an abnormal response to aspirin in the setting of a viral illness. We rarely see Reye's syndrome anymore because we no longer give aspirin to, aspirin or aspirin-containing products to children in the setting of a viral illness. The incidence of Reye's syndrome peaked in the 1970s and currently we only see 1-2 cases of Reye's syndrome a year.

The important thing to know about Reye's syndrome is that it's very important not to give children aspirin or aspirin-containing products in the setting of a viral illness.

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