Reyes Foundation Reminds Of Aspirin, Reye's Syndrome Link
The National Reye's Syndrome Foundation wants to remind parents, teachers, and medical professionals about keeping in mind that research has shown an association between the development of Reye's Syndrome and the use of aspirin (a salicylate compound) for treating the symptoms of influenza-like illnesses, (Flu) chicken pox, colds, etc.
It is possible to develop Reye's Syndrome without taking aspirin. However, the chances of developing Reye's Syndrome can be reduced by not giving aspirin to individuals for relief of discomfort or fever without first consulting a physician for each specific use, especially in children. Anti-nausea medications may also contain salicylates, and may mask the symptoms of Reye's Syndrome.
Teenagers and adults are especially at risk of developing Reye's Syndrome due to self-medication. Too often, teenagers are ingesting aspirin-type products without parental knowledge. Teenagers should be made aware of the different forms of pain relievers on the market and make certain they check with a parent before using any medications.
What is Reye's Syndrome?
Reye's Syndrome is a disease which affects all organs of the body, but most lethally the liver and brain. Reye's Syndrome is a two-phase illness because it is almost always associated with a previous viral infection, such as influenza, cold, or chicken pox. Scientists do know that Reye's Syndrome is not contagious and the cause is unknown. Reye's Syndrome is often misdiagnosed as encephalitis, meningitis, diabetes, drug overdose, poisoning, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or psychiatric illness.
Reye's Syndrome tends to appear with greatest frequency during January, February, and March when influenza is most common. Cases are reported in every month of the year. An epidemic of flu or chicken pox is commonly followed by an increase in number of cases of Reye's Syndrome.
When Reye's Syndrome develops, it typically occurs when a person is beginning to recover from a viral illness. Abnormal accumulations of fat begin to develop in the liver and other organs of the body, along with a severe increase of pressure in the brain. Unless diagnosed and treated successfully, death is common, often within a few days. A person's life depends upon early diagnosis. Statistics indicate an excellent chance of recovery when Reye's Syndrome is diagnosed and treated in its earliest stages. The later the diagnosis and treatment, the more severely reduced are chances for successful recovery and survival.
Stages of Reye's Syndrome:
Persistent or continuous Vomiting
Signs of Brain Dysfunction; Listlessness
Loss of Pep and Energy
Personality Changes; Irritability, Aggressive Behavior
Disorientation; Confusion, Irrational Behavior, Combative
Delirium, convulsions, coma
Reye's Syndrome should be suspected in a person if this pattern or symptoms appear during, or most commonly, after a viral illness. Not all symptoms have to occur, nor do they have to be displayed in this order. Fever is not usually present. Many diseases have symptoms in common. Physicians and medical staff in emergency rooms who have not had experience in treating Reye's Syndrome may misdiagnose the disease. The symptoms of Reye's Syndrome in infants do not follow a typical pattern. For example, vomiting may be replaced with diarrhea, and they may display irregular breathing.
Medicines can mask symptoms. Do not give children aspirin or anti-nausea medications. Call your doctor immediately if you suspect Reye's Syndrome. Reye's Syndrome is always a medical emergency. Time is important and early diagnosis is vital. Abnormal liver tests: SGOT and SGPT strongly suggest a diagnosis of Reye's Syndrome.
For more information about Reye's Syndrome, visit the National Reye's Syndrome Foundation website at http://www.reyessyndrome.org.