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Reye's Syndrome is a very serious disease that you should know about. Some people develop Reye's Syndrome as they are getting over a viral illness, such as the flu or chicken pox. Reye's Syndrome usually affects people from infancy through young adulthood; however, no age group is immune. Although Reye's generally occurs when someone is recovering from a viral illness, it can develop 3 to 5 days after the onset of the illness. Its main targets are the liver and brain, it is non-contagious and too often it is misdiagnosed as encephalitis, meningitis, diabetes, poisoning, drug overdose or sudden infant death.



Early diagnosis is crucial. An individual should be watched during the next two to three weeks following a viral illness for these symptoms, usually occurring in this order:

  • Relentless or continuous vomiting
  • Listlessness (loss of pep and energy with little interest in their environment)
  • Drowsiness (excessive sleepiness)
  • Personalility change (such as irritability, slurred speech, sensitivity w touch)
  • Disorientation or confusion (unable to identify whereabouts, family members or answer questions)
  • Combativeness (striking out at those trying to help)
  • Delirium, convulsions or loss of consciousness

Reye's Syndrome should be suspected in anyone who vomits repeatedly. Phone your doctor immediately if these symptoms develop. Voice your concern about Reye's Syndrome. If your physician is unavailable, take the person to an Emergency Room promptly. Two liver function tests (SGOT, SGPT) can be done to determine the possibility of Reye's Syndrome. There is a 90% chance of recovery when the syndrome is treated in its earliest stages by physicians and nurses experienced in the treatment of Reye's.

Studies have shown that using aspirin or aspirin-containing medications to treat the symptoms of viral illnesses increases the chance of developing Reye's Syndrome. If you, or a member of your family, have a viral illness, do not use aspirin or aspirin-containing medications. In fact you should consult your physician before your take any drugs to treat the flu or chicken pox, particularly aspirin or anti-nausea medicines. Anti-nausea medicines may mask the symptoms of Reye's Syndrome.

The National Reye's Syndrome Foundation (NRSF), the U.S. Surgeon General, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control recommend that aspirin and combination products containing aspirin not be taken by anyone under 19 years of age during fever-causing illnesses.

Aspirin is a part of the salicylate family of medicines. Another name for aspirin is acetylsalicylate; some drug labels may use the words acetylsalicylate, acetylsalicylic acid, salicylate acid or salicylate instead of the word aspirin. Currently, there is no conclusive data as to whether other forms of salicylates are associated with the development of Reye's Syndrome. Until further research has answered this question, the NRSF recommends that products containing any of these substances should not be taken during episodes of viral infections.


The National Reye's Syndrome Foundation (NRSF)

The National Reye's Syndrome Foundation was formed in 1974. It is the only citizen group to generate a concerted organized lay movement to eradicate the disease and provide funds for research in the cause, treatment, care and prevention of Reye's Syndrome.

The NRSF is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization with affiliates located in 44 states. The NRSF has pioneered the movement to disseminate knowledge about the disease in an effort to aid in early diagnosis and also provides funds for research into the causes, cure, care, treatment and prevention of Reye's Syndrome.

An audio-visual slide/tape on Reye's Syndrome is available for the general public. Two additional programs for in-service hospital programs are technical in nature and are designed for members of the health profession. A VHS documentary is also available for the general public. Inquiries regarding their use should be directed to the Bryan office.

We need your help! Contact the NRSF national office for more information on helping combat Reye's Syndrome or to report a case in your district, by calling 1-800-233-7393.

For a free brochure, write:

National Reye's Syndrome Foundation
P.O. Box 829S
Bryan, Ohio 43506

Or, call 419/636-2679 or toll free 800/233-7393


Reye's Syndrome Video Documentary

The Foundation offers a NEW 26 minute Reye's Syndrome documentary. It is available to you on VHS at no charge, except for the cost of return postage. To order, a $10.00 deposit is required along with an audio-visual reservation form which must be sent to us to reserve your viewing date. Your deposit will be sent back to you when the video is returned to them.

This documentary reviews Reye's Syndrome and its early symptoms. It also interviews physicians, families, and other individuals who have experienced the trauma of the disease. Audiences will learn about the aspirin connection and efforts aimed at public awareness are also discussed.

If you are interested in using this program, please call 419/636-2679 or toll free 800/233-7393 to receive the audio-visual reservation form.



*Information from the National Reye's Syndrome Foundation Inc. 1994

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