Reye's syndrome: The illness that affects children

Introducing Reye's syndrome - So rare that you probably haven’t heard of it, Reye’s syndrome is a disorder that can cause serious liver damage, brain damage, and even death.

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Post-viral development - Reye’s syndrome mainly affects people under the age of 20, and it normally develops after a viral infection such as a cold, flu, or chicken pox.

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What happens with Reye's syndrome - It is thought that when Reye’s syndrome develops, the tiny structures within cells (called mitochondria) become damaged.

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The importance of mitochondria - Mitochondria are particularly important for the healthy functioning of the liver. 

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Fatal swelling - A failing liver can cause a buildup of toxic chemicals in the blood, which can cause the whole body and brain to swell. This can be fatal.

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Symptoms - The initial symptoms of Reye’s syndrome normally begin a few days after a viral infection.

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Symptoms - The main ones are repeated vomiting, tiredness and/or lack of interest and enthusiasm, rapid breathing, and seizures.

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Diagnosis - When it comes to diagnosing Reye’s syndrome, there are other, more common conditions with similar symptoms that first need to be ruled out.

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Treatment - If your child is diagnosed with Reye’s syndrome, they will be admitted immediately to an ICU, where they will be treated for the condition.

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Vital functions - The aim of treatment is to minimize symptoms while supporting the body’s vital functions, such as breathing and blood circulation.

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Protection against swelling - It is also essential to protect the brain against any permanent damage that can be caused by the swelling around it.

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Keeping a close eye- Doctors will also monitor the child’s vital body functions, including heart rate and pulse, air flow to the lungs, blood pressure, and body temperature.

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Permanent damage - Some will make a full recovery, but others can be left with permanent damage caused by the swelling around the brain.

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Long-term care -If a child does develop long-term problems as a result of Reye’s syndrome, their doctor will devise an individualized care plan to address their needs.

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Products to avoid - Parents should be aware that certain mouth ulcer and dental gels contain salicylate salts. These should not be given to children under 16.

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Available alternatives -There are alternative products for mouth ulcers and the like; parents should discuss the most suitable option for their child with their pharmacist.

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