National Reyes Syndrome Foundation UK

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Information for Health Professionals

Signs and Symptoms - What are the early stages of Reye's Syndrome?

The symptoms of Reye's syndrome usually begin a few days after a viral infection.

Persistent or continuous vomiting and/or:

Signs of cerebral oedema:-

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

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 infection 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 syndromes" are most likely to occur.


Next review: December 2019