A Natural Approach To Health
Living With Reye’s Syndrome
I had a question the other day about Reye’s syndrome.
Reye’s syndrome is a rare, serious disease affecting many internal organs, especially your brain and liver.
It mainly strikes children between the ages of 4 and 12.
Most cases of Reye’s syndrome happen in children who were given aspirin or aspirin-containing medications for a viral infection like the flu or chickenpox.
Reye’s syndrome has also been associated with Epstein-Barr virus, influenza B, and enteroviruses (viruses infecting mainly your gastrointestinal tract).
Four to six days after the onset of the viral illness, your child suddenly develops a fever and severe vomiting.
Other symptoms include mental and personality changes like confusion, drowsiness, lethargy, memory lapses, and/or unusual belligerence and irritability.
In addition, your child may experience weakness and paralysis in their arms or legs, double vision, palpitations, speech impairment, impaired skin integrity, and/or hearing loss.
Convulsions, coma, brain damage, and even death may follow, usually the result of cerebral edema or respiratory failure.
Fortunately, because of increased awareness of the disease, and especially of the importance of early detection and prompt treatment, the mortality rate has declined in recent years.
A high of 555 cases in 1980 has dwindled to about 37 cases a year.
Forty percent of the cases were in children under 5 years of age; 90% were children under 15 years.
The exact cause of Reye’s syndrome is unknown, but as a result of research conducted in the early 1980s, we know the combination of aspirin and viral illness dramatically increases the risk of developing this dangerous disorder.
This is why aspirin is no longer recommended for routine use as a pain reliever for children and acetaminophen (Tylenol) is recommended in its place.
There’s no cure for Reye’s syndrome.
Treatment focuses on balancing chemical levels in the blood, while monitoring and supporting the functions of the lung, liver, heart, and brain.
It also depends on the stage of the disease, but treatment almost always involves hospitalization.
Typical hospital care includes intravenous fluids to restore blood electrolytes and glucose levels, and sometimes a diuretic to help eliminate waste and excess fluid.
In some cases, surgery may be performed to reduce swelling and pressure on the brain.
One way Reye’s syndrome can be detected is through a spinal tap, a procedure involving inserting a needle into the spinal canal, usually at the lower back, to withdraw a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for examination.
If a person with Reye’s syndrome receives an intravenous solution of glucose (sugar) and electrolytes (mineral salts) within 12-24 hours after the heavy vomiting starts, the chance of recovery is excellent.
To deal with Reye’s syndrome it’s beneficial to:
*Drink 10 cups of purified water daily.
*The following are herbal remedies useful once the acute phase of the illness has passed and recovery has begun:
*Alfalfa, hawthorn berry, hyssop, milk thistle, pau d’arco, and wild yam help to rebuild and strengthen your liver.
*A lotion containing aloe vera, calendula, and/or chamomile can be used to nourish and heal your skin.
*Catnip tea helps reduce anxiety.
*Ginger and peppermint are good for relief of nausea.
*Gravel root, hydrangea, oat straw, parsley root, and uva ursi have diuretic properties.
*Do NOT use meadowsweet or white willow bark as they’re related to aspirin.
*Be sure any supplements your child is taking do not contain glutamine, as it can lead to an accumulation of ammonia in the blood. Although the names glutamine, glutamic acid, glutamate, glutathione, gluten, and monosodium glutamate sound similar, these are all different substances.
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