R eye syndrome is a serious condition that can cause damage to the liver and brain . This syndrome mostly affects children and adolescents who are recovering from a viral infection, such as the flu. However, in rare cases, Reye's syndrome can also affect adults.
Reye's syndrome is thought to occur due to disruption of metabolic processes in the liver when the child is exposed to a viral infection. This can cause a drop in blood sugar and a buildup of ammonia in the blood, which will then impact the brain. This condition can cause children to experience seizures and lose consciousness.
Causes of Reye's Syndrome
Reye's syndrome occurs when the mitochondria in liver cells are damaged. Mitochondria are small structures in the cytoplasm that play an important role in maintaining liver function.
Damage to the mitochondria makes it impossible for the liver to remove toxins from the blood, such as ammonia. As a result, toxins accumulate in the blood and cause damage to all organs of the body and swelling in the brain.
It's not known what causes Reye's syndrome. However, it is suspected that the use of aspirin in a child infected with the virus may initiate or exacerbate hepatic mitochondrial damage.
In addition, the use of aspirin in adolescents who have impaired fatty acid oxidation is also thought to trigger Reye's syndrome. Disorders of fatty acid oxidation are genetic disorders that cause the body to be unable to break down fatty acids.
Symptoms of Reye's Syndrome
Symptoms of Reye's syndrome usually appear within 3–5 days after a child has a viral infection, such as a cold, flu or chickenpox. In children under 2 years of age, Reye's Syndrome causes early symptoms in the form of:
- shortness of breath
While in older children, early symptoms of Reye's syndrome can include:
- Easy to fall asleep
- Continuous vomiting
If this condition gets worse, the symptoms can become serious, such as:
- Confused, rambling, delirious, or even hallucinating
- Easily irritated and behavior becomes more aggressive
- Weakness or even paralysis in the limbs
- Decreased level of consciousness
When to see a doctor
To prevent Reye's syndrome, don't carelessly give any medication to a sick child, especially if he or she is under 16 years old. It is recommended to bring sick children to the doctor, so that children get the right treatment.
Reye's syndrome is an emergency condition that must be treated quickly. Therefore, immediately take and check your child to the doctor if he shows early symptoms of Reye's syndrome after recovering from a cold, flu, or smallpox cough.
Take the child to the emergency room or seek the nearest medical help if the child has a seizure or loss of consciousness.
Diagnosis of Reye's Syndrome
Until now, there is still no specific method for diagnosing Reye's syndrome. Blood and urine tests may be done to detect disorders of fat oxidation or other metabolic disorders.
In some cases, the doctor can do an examination to rule out the possibility that the symptoms are caused by another disease. Examinations that can be carried out include:
- lumbar puncture, which is taking a sample of fluid from the brain to rule out symptoms caused by other conditions, such as inflammation of the lining of the brain ( meningitis ) and inflammation of the brain ( encephalitis )
- Scanning with a CT scan or MRI, to detect disorders in the brain that can cause changes in the patient's behavior
- Biopsy (tissue sampling) in the liver, to rule out other possibilities that cause liver disorders
- Skin biopsy, to detect fatty acid oxidation disorders and other metabolic disorders
Reye's Syndrome Treatment
Until now, there is no treatment method to cure Reye's syndrome. The treatment given is only aimed at reducing symptoms and preventing complications.
Reye's syndrome must be managed in the hospital. Children with severe symptoms should be treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). During treatment, the doctor will monitor heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and oxygen supply to the lungs.
Actions that doctors can take are administering drugs through an infusion, including:
- Liquids that contain sugar and electrolytes, to maintain a balance of salt, nutrients, minerals and sugar levels in the blood
- Diuretic drugs, to get rid of excess fluid in the body and relieve swelling in the brain
- Blood plasma and platelet transfusions or administration of vitamin K, to prevent bleeding due to liver disorders
- Ammonia detoxican , to reduce ammonia levels in the blood
- Anticonvulsant drugs, to prevent and treat seizures
Apart from medicines, the doctor will also provide a breathing apparatus (ventilator) for children who have respiratory problems.
Once the swelling in the brain has subsided, other body functions will return to normal within a few days. However, it may take several weeks before your child is well enough to leave the hospital.
Reye's syndrome complications
In some cases, brain swelling due to Reye's syndrome can cause permanent brain damage. Other complications that may occur include:
- Decreased memory and ability to concentrate
- Difficulty swallowing and speaking
- Impaired vision or hearing
- Difficulty doing daily activities (such as getting dressed or using the bathroom)
Prevention of Reye's Syndrome
As described above, Reye's syndrome is believed to be associated with aspirin use in children. Therefore, do not give aspirin to children who are sick or are recovering from viral infections, such as colds, flu and chickenpox.
Apart from aspirin, children under the age of 16 are not allowed to use any medicine which contains the following ingredients:
- Salicylic acid
- Salicylic salt
- Acetylsalicylic acid
If your child has the flu, chicken pox, or another viral infection, take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve fever and pain. However, it is best to administer the drug after consulting a doctor first.
Some children may have health problems that require them to take aspirin, for example in children with Kawasaki disease. In conditions like this, what can be done is to protect children as best they can from viral infections. One way is to ensure the completeness of children's vaccines, especially the annual chickenpox vaccine and flu vaccine .