Adults with young children need to remember: Don’t forget about Reye’s syndrome.
According to WebMD, Reye’s syndrome most commonly affects children between the ages of 6 and 12. It comes on very suddenly during recovery from a viral illness like the flu or chickenpox. While experts do not know exactly what causes Reye’s syndrome, they do know it is linked with giving aspirin or a medication containing aspirin.
Occurring up to seven days after the initial viral illness, Reye’s syndrome causes brain swelling and liver inflammation. Children with the disease will have a quick onset of vomiting, retching, strange behavior, inability to speak coherently, seizures, and possibly enter into a coma. If the disease is not treated immediately it can result in death.
Immediate treatment at a hospital will minimize brain and liver damage. Most children need supportive care, CT scans, spinal taps, and liver biopsies.
Back in the 1980’s, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a warning to parents that aspirin was possibly linked to Reye’s syndrome. Thankfully the public heeded the warning, dropping cases down from 555 annually to about 2 each year.
To avoid Reye’s syndrome, doctors recommend not using aspirin in children under 20 months of age. Other medications that should be eliminated due to their aspirin content are: Pepto-Bismol, Alka Seltzer, and Kaopectate. If you’re not certain about a medication, avoid giving anything with the names: acetylsalicylic acid, acetyl salicylate, salicylic acid, salicylate, or subsalicylate.