National Reyes Syndrome Foundation UK

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Information for Health Professionals

What are the early stages of Reye's Syndrome?

Persistent or continuous vomiting and/or:

Signs of cerebral oedema:-

  • Listlessness
  • Loss of Energy
  • Drowsiness
  • Delirium, Convulsions

Personality changes:-

  • Irritability
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Irrational behaviour

Reye's syndrome should be suspected if a child displays all or part of this pattern of symptoms a few days after the onset of viral illness such as 'flu' or chickenpox. Fever is not usually present. Many diseases have similar features. Medical staff who do not have experience of Reye’s syndrome may initially suspect encephalitis, meningitis, poisoning, mental illness or even drug abuse. In infants the symptoms of Reye's syndrome may not follow a typical pattern; for example vomiting is less common. However, it should be emphasised that it is in infants that the "Reye-like illnesses" are most likely to occur.