After diagnosis

The NHS advise that if Reye's syndrome is diagnosed, your child will need to be immediately admitted to an intensive care unit. We explain more about treatment and survival.

Treatment aims to minimise the symptoms and support the body’s vital functions, such as breathing and blood circulation. It is also essential to protect the brain against permanent damage that can be caused by the brain swelling.

Medicines may be given directly into a vein (intravenously) such as:

  • electrolytes and fluids – to correct the level of salts, minerals and nutrients, such as glucose (sugar), in the blood
  • diuretics – medications to help rid the body of excess fluid and reduce swelling in the brain
  • ammonia detoxicants – medications to reduce the level of ammonia
  • anticonvulsants – medications to control seizures

A ventilator (breathing machine) may be used if your child needs help with breathing.

Vital body functions will also be monitored, including the heart rate and pulse, the air flow to their lungs, blood pressure and body temperature.

Once the swelling in the brain has reduced, the other functions of the body should return to normal within a few days , although it may be several weeks before your child is well enough to leave hospital.

Are there lasting effects?

Survival is related to the severity of the cerebral oedema (brain swelling). Some patients recover completely. Others may sustain slight to severe permanent brain damage.

Patients surviving Reye’s syndrome require follow up, with developmental and neurological assessment. See our pages on life after Reye’s syndrome.

Date of next review: December 2021

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