Reye syndrome

Reye syndrome

Reye syndrome is a rare brain and liver inflammation. It is more common in children under six years of age.

Reye syndrome is named after the Australian pathologist (Douglas Reye, 1912 to 1977) who first described it.

The cause is unknown, but it may be associated with the use of aspirin in children. It invariably follows two to three weeks after a viral infection such as influenza, chickenpox or a cold.

Liver failure and brain inflammation (encephalitis) occur, which causes vomiting, mental confusion and convulsion.

No specific treatment is available, but attempts are made to control the brain swelling and assist breathing. There is a death rate in excess of 30% and it is often rapidly fatal. Permanent liver or brain damage may occur in survivors.

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