Reye's Syndrome

Reye's syndrome is a fatal ailment that has the aptitude to affect any child, teen or adult all of a sudden, without any forewarning. This disease affects all the organs of the body, especially causing grave harm to the liver and the brain. The disease derived its name from Dr. Ralph Douglas Reye, who was the first to define the syndrome in 1963. Although the reason for as well as treatment of this deadly disease is yet to be ascertained, scientific studies corroborated a connection between Reye's syndrome as well as using aspirin and different medications enclosing salicylate, non-prescription products and also products that are applied externally.

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In addition to the probable reasons for developing Reye's syndrome, it also appears that using aspirin to cure viral ailments or infections may also set off this disease, especially ailments like influenza (flu) and chickenpox, in teens and children who are basically suffering from a disorder related to fatty acid oxidation. It is worth mentioning here that fatty acid disorders are basically a group of hereditary metabolic problems wherein the body cannot break down fatty acids owing to the absence or malfunctioning of an enzyme. If you wish to find out whether your child is suffering from this disorder or not, you need him or her to undergo a screening test.

In addition, coming in contact with specific toxic substances, for instance, herbicides, insecticides as well as paint thinner, may possibly be the other exceptional reasons behind developing Reye's syndrome.

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Since Reye's syndrome is nearly always related to an earlier viral ailment like cold, flu or chickenpox, this is often known as a two-phase ailment. However, scientists are aware of the fact that Reye's syndrome is not infectious and, but are yet to ascertain what precisely causes this disease. Very often, physicians wrongly make a diagnosis Reye's syndrome as diabetes, encephalitis, meningitis, poisoning or even an overdose of a drug. In addition, there are instances when Reye's syndrome has been misdiagnosed as psychiatric ailment or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

It has been found that Reye's syndrome has a propensity to develop with the maximum rate of recurrence during the period between January and March, a time when influenza is also very widespread. Nevertheless, incidences of Reye's syndrome are reported throughout the year. It has also been observed that usually there is a rise in the number of incidences of Reye's syndrome subsequent to an outbreak of chickenpox or flu.

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Normally, an individual is affected by Reye's syndrome, just when he/ she is starting to recuperate from a viral infection. In such cases, the patient finds an unusual fat build up in the liver as well as different other organs accompanied with an intense rise in pressure within the brain. If this condition is not diagnosed and treated effectively, it generally results in death, generally just within some days or maybe even hours of developing the fatal disease. Therefore, it is important to note that when an individual develops Reye's syndrome, his/ her life solely counts on making an early diagnosis as well as timely treatment. Data available hints at very good chances of recovery from Reye's syndrome provided it is diagnosed as well as treated at the initial stage of its occurrence. More the delay in making a diagnosis and treatment of Reye's syndrome, the possibilities of effective recuperation and survival of the patient are lesser.

When an individual develops Reye's syndrome, two things can happen - either the ailment will resolve of its own accord, or it will advance towards coma and eventually result in death of the patient. In the 1980s, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) has suggested the need for educating parents about the perils of treating their children with aspirin as a result of which the rate of occurrence of this deadly disease has fallen - in fact, it now occurs rarely.

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Reye's syndrome causes a number of symptoms; primary among them are unrestrained vomiting and changes in the patient's mental condition. By and large, these symptoms are a fall-out of intracranial pressure (increase in pressure within the skull) as well as the swelling of the brain. Unless these symptoms are treated timely or there is any improvement in the condition, this disease may prove to be fatal.

In general, treatment of all cases of Reye's syndrome is done in the hospital. However, when the condition of a patient becomes grave, he or she is shifted to the intensive care unit for treatment. During the treatment period, the staff members of the hospital will personally keep an eye on the patient's blood pressure as well as additional critical signs.

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The primary objective of the treatment of Reye's syndrome is to lessen the swelling in the patient's body as well as protect his/ her brain, liver as well as the other organs from any harm. In addition, the patient may also be treated for eliminating all harmful chemicals from his/ her body. The patient may also require putting an endotracheal tube in his/ her airway with a view to make it easier for them to breathe. Besides, there may also be a requirement for putting a nasogastric tube to facilitate feeding the patient. Close observation of the brain swelling may also be essential and, therefore, a monitor may also be placed nearby. The patient may also need either of these:

Anti-seizure medications
These medicines may be used to avoid any type of convulsion.
Intravenous fluids
It may be necessary to provide the patient with glucose and any electrolyte solution given intravenously.
Diuretics
Diuretics or 'water pills' may be given to the patient with a view to lessen the intracranial pressure as well as augment the loss of fluids by means of urination.
Medications to prevent bleeding
Reye's syndrome patients are likely to experience bleeding owing to the malfunctioning of the liver and, therefore, may need to be treated using vitamin K, platelets and plasma.
Antibiotics
People are generally given antibiotics with a view to combat any infection they might have contracted.
Dialysis
Dialysis helps to get rid of the excessive water, chemicals as well as waste products from the patient's blood. To undertake this procedure, a dialyzer or dialysis machines is required. Precisely speaking, the dialyzer passes the patient's blood through a special filter to eliminate the waste products in it from the body. Subsequently, it returns the purified blood back into the patient's body. In addition to dialysis, the patient may possibly also be provided with medications or, alternately during dialysis their blood may be taken for examinations.
Stool softeners
Use of stool softeners helps to increase the frequency of the patient's bowl movements. In effect, stool softeners will also facilitate in getting rid of the harmful chemicals from the body.

Supplements and herbs

In addition to conventional treatments, use of specific herbs and dietary supplements may prove to be effective in preventing the development of as well as treating Reye's syndrome. For instance, vitamin C fortifies the immune system and, at the same time, augments the while blood cell count as well as quality. In addition, vitamin C also helps in lessening the level of histamine in the bloodstream.

In addition, use of bioflavonoids is also effective, as they are natural antioxidants and help in eliminating the harmful free radicals. Bioflavonoids also perk up the immune systems and, at the same time, facilitate in combating infection, while working effectively together with vitamin C. Similarly, vitamin E assists the healing process of the body, while working as a potent antioxidant to assist in eliminating the free radicals from the body. In addition, use of B vitamins also encourages healing and also fortifies the immune system.

The herb Echinacea also facilitates in curing and is regularly used in combination with zinc. Reishi, another herb, aids in improving the immune system as well as provides protection from and combats viral infections. The resin of the herb frankincense also facilitates in soothing as well as cooling the body, while promoting overall healing. Myrrh resin also stimulates the healing process and works excellently when used in combination with herbs like aloe vera and frankincense.

Zinc is an essential mineral that augments the response of the immune system and, simultaneously, assists in diminishing infections.

People who have developed Reye's syndrome will also find the use of multi-vitamin mineral supplements containing vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B complex and zinc useful. All the components of multi-vitamin mineral supplements are effective in preventing as well as treating the infections and associated problems, such as Reye's syndrome. In addition, the nourishments present in a daily supplement are also required for overall good health as well as well being.

Additional things you may do

It may be noted that scientists and physicians are yet to discover a precise treatment of Reye's syndrome. Generally, when an individual is affected by this condition, the physician or healthcare provider simply keeps a close watch on the pressure within the brain (intracranial pressure), balance of the blood acid-base (pH) and blood gases.

Nevertheless, you may do a few additional things to prevent or treat the condition. For instance, it is advisable that you should never give your child aspirin for treating any condition, provided the physician has not recommended otherwise. When it is absolutely necessary for any child to take aspirin, you should be careful to ensure that you lessen the chances of the child contacting any viral ailment, for instance, cold, flu (influenza) and chickenpox. In addition, if your child has been vaccinated for chickenpox (varicella vaccine), ensure that he/ she does not take aspirin for several days.

PS: It may be noted that besides taking aspirin directly, different non-prescription drugs like Pepto-Bismol as well as substances that contain the oil of wintergreen also enclose aspirin amalgams known as salicylates. Never give these medications to your child, if he/ she is suffering from a cold or fever.

In addition, never give any glutamic acid, glutamine, glutathione, gluten and/ or monosodium glutamate to your child. Observe closely if your child has developed any warning symptoms after suffering from a cold, flu, chickenpox and/ or an ear infection. In case the child is enduring profuse and drawn out vomiting, weariness, disorientation as well as slips in his/ her memory, rush him to a nearby emergency room.

Since there is no precise cure for Reye's syndrome, all treatments are basically supportive. The team providing medical care simply concentrates on ensuring that the child who has been affected by Reye's syndrome remains hydrated and keeps an electrolyte balance. In addition, the team also observes the nutrition intake as well as the cardio-respiratory condition of the patient. The possibilities of recovering from this condition are most when these vital systems are maintained in utmost balance. The medical staff of the hospital attending the child may also undertake a number of examinations, including blood tests with a view to keep an eye on the electrolytes as well as the functioning of the liver, in addition to undertaking a CAT scan or MRI of the brain.

In case the patient finds it difficult to breathe, for instance, slow or ineffective breathing, it may be essential to use a breathing machine or respirator for mechanical breathing. In addition, the medical team will also monitor the intracranial pressure and give the patient small amounts of insulin with a view to augment the metabolism of glucose. While diuretics may be given to remove the surplus fluid from the body, corticosteroids are likely to be administered to lessen the swelling of the brain. Medications are also given in case the patient experiences any type of seizure.

Before concluding, it is worth mentioning that over the years there has been an improvement in the diagnosis of children having Reye's syndrome. Currently, the survival rate of children affected by this deadly disease is approximately 80 per cent - on account of advanced diagnosis as well as improved treatment. Nevertheless, some children may still progress to the more advanced stages of this disease and they are most likely to endure disability as well as brain damage.

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