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Search Health Information    Reye Syndrome

Reye Syndrome

Reye syndrome is a very rare but serious disease that is most likely to occur in children younger than 15 years of age. The exact cause is not known, but it is linked with children who have recently had chickenpox (varicella), a cold, or flu (influenza) and taken aspirin.

The disease primarily targets the brain and liver and can cause drowsiness, confusion, seizures, coma, and in severe cases, death. The symptoms usually develop 3 to 7 days after the viral illness starts. Reye syndrome is not contagious.

All children with Reye syndrome are treated in a hospital intensive care unit, and most recover in a few weeks. But some children develop lasting brain damage. Early treatment increases the chance for full recovery.

Aspirin or aspirin products should not be given to anyone younger than 20, unless they are specifically prescribed by a doctor. Aspirin is also called acetyl salicylate, acetylsalicylic acid, salicylic acid, salicylate, or subsalicylate. Aspirin products are found in over-the-counter medicines such as Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate, and Alka-Seltzer.

Current as of: September 6, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Chuck Norlin, MD - Pediatrics

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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