Reye syndrome is a rare but
serious disease that most often affects children ages 6 to 12 years old. It can
cause brain swelling and liver damage. It may be related to using
aspirin to treat viral infections.
syndrome can lead to brain damage, liver damage, and death. But if the disease
is found and treated early, most children recover from Reye syndrome in a
few weeks and have no lasting problems.
Q: My 7-year-old son likes to swallow his bubblegum. I’ve heard that
it will stay in his stomach forever. True?
A: This old wives’ tale is very popular on the playground, but it’s
"It is true that most of the components of bubblegum are not found in
nature," says Robynne Chutkan, MD, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor
of medicine at Georgetown University. "And as such we don’t have the enzymes to
break them down. But eventually gum does get through the intestine...
Experts don't know what
causes Reye syndrome. It often happens in children who have recently had
the flu and who took medicines that contain
Reye syndrome cannot spread from child to child.
What are the symptoms?
Reye syndrome often starts
when a child is recovering from a viral illness, such as the flu or
chickenpox. Symptoms usually
appear 3 to 7 days after the viral illness starts. They may develop over
several hours to a day or two.