Reye’s syndrome is one of the rare disease in which the main symptoms are brain dysfunction and degeneration of the liver. This article will help you to go through all the aspects of this disease , like symptoms, causes and prevention.
This disease was named after the name of a doctor Dr. R. Douglas Reye who published the study for the first time in 1963 in ‘The Lancet’. It is one of the fatal diseases that occur mostly in children and adolescents. The clinical symptoms of this disease are profuse vomiting, neurological dysfunction and in severe cases –delirium, death and coma.
But fortunately, as per the centers for disease control and prevention in the US , the number of cases has witnessed a sharp fall in 80s and further decline in the 21st century.
Causes of Reye’s disease:
Although researchers are doing extensive research on the causes of this disease but the answers still puzzle us. But some of the important indicators of this disease have come to know. One of the patterns is that children with this syndrome, shows a history of an antecedent viral infection which can be chicken pox, gastroenteritis or influenza. There is a strong relation between the uses of aspirin during the initial stage of this syndrome. So people and doctors in the United States were advised not to recommend it in any form.
One of the first indicators if this disease is profuse vomiting which is followed by lethargies, sleepiness and irritability. When this syndrome advances, the patient start becoming irritated, disoriented and in some cases experiences seizures and in rare cases comes under the trap of coma. It also leads to encephalopathy and fatty degeneration of the liver due to change blood levels of some specific liver enzymes.
When any patient exhibits all symptoms as given above then certain tests are used to determine the presence of Reye’s syndrome. These tests include blood chemistry test, liver function test, serum ammonia test, liver biopsy, head MRI etc.
Blood chemistry helps to find out the level of glucose in blood. The increase in the level of enzymes is traced by liver function test. The increase in serum ammonia than the normal levels indicates the presence of this disease and head MRI explains the functioning and state of the brain.
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for this and the course of treatment depends upon the degrees of illness and is administered to keep the symptoms under control. The vital functions of the body are observed and accordingly, electrolytes and glucose are provided with the help of I/V fluids. To control seizures, anti-convulsant medication is used and steroids can be used to decrease swelling in the brain.
Everybody is aware of the phrase “prevention is better than cure “as the treatment options for Reye’s syndrome are limited and the fatality rate is high so preventive measures should be used. One of the most important preventive measures is never give or allow children to take aspirin. Regular vaccination for chicken pox and influenza should be given. Reye’s syndrome is a critical disease so it is better to follow these precautions to prevent it as it may develop as long term neurological problems.
This is because of the different awareness program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that has made it possible to decrease the number of cases of this disease.