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It's Your Health
Reye's Syndrome (RS) is a rare disease that affects mainly children or teenagers during a viral illness, such as chicken pox or influenza. It can be fatal. The use of ASA (Acetylsalicylic Acid) has been strongly linked with the development of RS.
The symptoms of RS may include:
If your child gets any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or go to your hospital's emergency department. RS is fatal in 20 to 30 percent of all cases, and can cause permanent brain damage in those who survive.
Often, victims get RS just as they appear to be recovering from the original illness. The use of ASA to treat the original illness is strongly connected to the development of RS. However, in rare cases, RS occurs without ASA being taken. We don't know how ASA triggers RS, nor why it primarily affects children, teenagers and young adults.
Both government and manufacturers have taken action to educate the public about RS. Regulations under the Food and Drugs Act now require manufacturers to label all over-the-counter products that have ASA with a warning about the dangers of giving ASA to a child or teenagers. ASA products are given to children only for relief of pain and not for fever.
The Food and Drugs Act regulations do not allow products containing ASA to be advertised for use by children or teenagers.
If your child has a fever, there are other things you can do to bring down the temperature.
The most important thing to remember is that some common symptoms are signs of more serious illnesses. If any symptoms last for more than two days or become worse, call your doctor.