Reye's Syndrome


What is Reye's syndrome? Reye's syndrome (RS) is a potentially life-threatening condition that can cause brain swelling and liver failure. The cause is unknown. Children are the most at risk if they have recently had the flu or chickenpox and take medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates. RS may also affect adolescents and adults.

What are the signs and symptoms of Reye's syndrome? Signs and symptoms usually appear after your child has had the flu or chickenpox. Your child may have any of the following:

How is Reye's syndrome diagnosed? Your child's caregiver will examine your child and ask about previous health conditions. Tell your child's caregiver about all of the medicines that your child is taking or has taken in the past. This includes over-the-counter, herbal medicine, or vitamins. Your child may need one or more of the following tests:

How is Reye's syndrome treated? The goal of treatment is to decrease swelling in your child's brain and prevent damage to his brain, liver, and other organs.

What are the risks of Reye's syndrome? Even after being treated for RS, your child may have long-term medical problems. If your child is not treated for RS, his brain, liver, and organ damage will get worse. If your child keeps taking a medicine that contains aspirin, his condition will worsen. This can lead to liver failure and brain damage that may become permanent. RS could cause your child to lose consciousness or be life-threatening.

How can Reye's syndrome be prevented?

When should I contact my child's caregiver? Contact your child's caregiver if:

When should I seek immediate care? Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

Where can I find support and more information?


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.