How to Tell if You Have Reye’s Syndrome


Part 1

Being on Alert for Reye’s Syndrome

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    Recognize the initial signs. People with Reye’s syndrome tend to become ill very suddenly. Signs typically appear about three to five days after the onset of viral infections such as influenza, chickenpox or the common cold, but, the signs may occur as late as three weeks after a viral infection.[2] The symptoms are quite different from the flu or common cold, which are upper respiratory infections — the initial signs of Reye’s syndrome can mimic food poisoning and the stomach flu. The initial signs of Reye’s syndrome include:

    • Continuous vomiting (lasting for many hours)
    • Irritable behavior
    • Unusual sleepiness or lethargy
    • Moderate-to-severe diarrhea and rapid breathing (for little kids, or those younger than two years old)[3]
    • Dropping blood sugar levels with higher levels of blood acidity.
    • Swelling of the liver and brain
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    Watch for additional symptoms. After the initial onset of signs, it usually takes a day or two for the more serious symptoms to develop and noticeable changes in mental status to occur. As Reye’s syndrome progresses and gets more serious, additional symptoms often include:

    • Tiredness
    • Aggressive/irrational behavior
    • Confusion/disorientation
    • Weakness or paralysis in the limbs
    • Seizures, loss of consciousness and coma[4]
    • If you see this pattern of signs or symptoms in your child or yourself, you need to get to a hospital or clinic for emergency treatment quickly.
    • Changes in mental status can include aggressiveness, agitation, amnesia, hallucinations (seeing and hearing things) and progressively reduced consciousness until the person lapses into a coma.
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    Understand the risk factors. The cause of Reye’s syndrome is unknown, but it occurs almost exclusively in children younger than 18 years (particularly between four to 12 years) and is most common in the late fall and winter months.[5] Most children diagnosed with the syndrome have a history of recent viral infection (influenza, chickenpox, common cold, rotavirus), which they are either still dealing with or just getting over. In addition to the association with certain viral infections, many affected children have a history of being given aspirin to control their fevers.

    • Since parents have been educated about the potential dangers of aspirin use for children, the incidence of Reye’s syndrome has dropped off significantly. More specifically, there are only a few documented cases of Reye’s syndrome in the United States per year now, although back in 1980, there were about 500 cases.[6]
    • People with fatty acid oxidation disorders (unable to break down fats because an enzyme is missing or malfunctioning) and other metabolic disorders appear to be at higher risk for Reye’s syndrome.[7]
    • Exposure to insecticides, herbicides and paint thinners may also increase the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome.
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    Avoid serious consequences and complications. Although most people (primarily children and teenagers) who develop Reye’s syndrome survive, varying degrees of permanent brain damage are relatively common in survivors.[8] The brain inflammation associated with Reye’s is what causes the seizures, loss of consciousness (coma) and eventual permanent brain damage. The key to avoiding serious consequences and complications is getting the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment quickly — within a few days of the onset of any symptoms. Left untreated, Reye’s syndrome is sometimes fatal, but almost always destructive to the brain.

    • Brain damage can cause intellectual/developmental disability, behavioral problems, deafness, arm / leg paralysis and/or a long-term coma.
    • Since the 1980s, the risk of death from Reye’s syndrome has decreased from 50% to less than 20% as a result of early diagnosis and aggressive therapy.[9]

 

Source: wikihow. com


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