Reye syndrome

Acute neurological illness in children, following influenza, chickenpox, or other viral infections.

Vomiting, lethargy, and confusion begin as the child appears to be recovering. These symptoms are followed hours or days later by drowsiness, disorientation, seizures, respiratory arrest, and coma. At worst, the syndrome includes fatty liver degeneration and potentially fatal brain swelling. There is no specific cure, but treatment of imbalances helps over 70% of patients survive (some with brain damage). The incidence has decreased since the recognition that it often follows use of aspirin or other salicylic acid derivatives in children during a viral illness. It can also result from aflatoxin or warfarin poisoning.

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      acute neurologic disease that develops primarily in children following influenza, chicken pox (chickenpox), or other viral (virus) infections. It may result in accumulation of fat in the liver and swelling of the brain. The disease was first reported by the Australian pathologist R.D.K. Reye in 1963.

      Reye syndrome commonly occurs during recovery from a viral illness, but it can also occur following aflatoxin or warfarin poisoning. It has also been associated with the use of aspirin or other salicylates during a viral illness. Inital symptoms include nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and confusion. Within a few hours or days drowsiness, disorientation, seizures, respiratory arrest, and coma occur. The precise cause of Reye syndrome is unknown but is thought to be related to viral damage to the cerebral mitochondria (cellular structures responsible for energy metabolism). A decline in the incidence of the syndrome has been attributed to the reduced use of salicylates in the treatment of pediatric viral infections.

      Although there is no specific cure, treatment involves the careful monitoring of the patient's vital functions and prompt correction of any imbalances with antibiotics (antibiotic), insulin, corticosteroids, glucose, diuretics (diuretic), blood serum, and other aids. More than 70 percent of patients recover; some recover completely, whereas others suffer some degree of brain damage.

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Universalium. 2010.

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