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Reye Syndrome in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Many parents do not know about Reye syndrome. It is a rare, serious illness that seems most often to affect children ages 6 to 12. Children who have an illness, such as the flu or chickenpox, are most likely to develop Reye syndrome. This is especially true if a sick or recovering child is given aspirin or another medicine that has aspirin in it.

You can reduce your child's chance of getting Reye syndrome by never giving aspirin to him or her. Some health problems, such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, might be treated with aspirin medicine. If this is true for your child, talk to your doctor about your child's treatment options. If your child's doctor prescribes aspirin, talk to the doctor about how to give it safely.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Do not give aspirin to your child unless your child's doctor directs you to. This is especially important if your child has just had chickenpox or the flu.
  • Read labels carefully. Aspirin is found in some over-the-counter medicines, such as Alka-Seltzer and Pepto-Bismol. Aspirin is also called:
    • Acetyl salicylate.
    • Acetylsalicylic acid.
    • Salicylic acid.
    • Salicylate or subsalicylate.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has just had chickenpox or the flu and has symptoms of Reye syndrome. These symptoms can include:
    • Vomiting.
    • No energy.
    • Strange behaviour, such as staring, being cranky, or slurring.
    • Unusual sleepiness.
    • Confusion.
    • Fast, deep breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.