Symptoms & Tests
According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of Reye's syndrome usually appear three to five days after a viral infection or an upper respiratory infection. For children younger than age 2, the first signs of Reye's syndrome may be diarrhea and rapid breathing.
For older children and teenagers, early signs and symptoms of Reye's syndrome may include:
- Sudden vomiting
- Persistent or continuous vomiting
- Unusual sleepiness or lethargy
As the condition progresses, signs and symptoms may become more serious and may include:
- Irritable, aggressive or irrational behavior
- Weakness or paralysis in the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness
Early diagnosis and treatment of Reye's syndrome can save a child's life. If Reye's syndrome is suspected, it is important to act quickly. While there is no cure, if diagnosed early, certain measures can be taken to reduce swelling in the brain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. A pattern typical of Reye's may be that a child develops an upper respiratory or viral infection but then starts to improve. Abruptly, the child begins vomiting and/or becomes lethargic. Seek medical attention if these signs are observed. If left untreated, seizures, loss of consciousness, or convulsions may occur.
Tests and Diagnosis
While there are no specific tests for Reye’s syndrome, screening typically begins with blood and urine tests, as well as tests for fatty acid oxidation disorders and other metabolic disorders.
Sometimes there is a need for more invasive diagnostic tests, such as a spinal tap, to evaluate other possible causes of liver problems and investigate any neurological abnormalities.
For more information, including a list of potentially harmful products, check out the Reye’s Syndrome website.