Reye's Syndrome

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What is Reye's Syndrome ?  

A potentially fatal syndrome affecting many organs like brain, liver and also causing low blood sugar. The disease causes fatty liver with minimal inflammation and cerebral edema. The disease largely affects children, rarely affecting adults.

Cause(s) :  Associated with aspirin consumption by children with viral illness. But it is seen to occur in the absence of aspirin use.

Symptoms :  Reye syndrome progresses through five stages.

Stage 1:
  • Rash on palms of hands and feet
  • Heavy vomiting, not relieved by lack of eating
  • Generalized lethargy
  • Confusion with headaches
  • Nightmares
Stage 2:
  • Stupor
  • Hyperventilation
  • Fatty liver syndrome
  • Hyperactive reflexes
Stage 3:
  • Possible coma
  • Cerebral edema
  • Very rarely, respiratory arrest
Stage 4:
  • Deep coma
  • Seizures
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Flaccidity
  • Ammonia in blood above 300 mg/dL
  • Death
Diagnosis and Tests :  
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
  • Liver biopsy
  • Computerized tomography scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Skin biopsy for fatty acid oxidation

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