Reye's syndrome

Treating Reye's syndrome

Treatment for Reye’s syndrome will require immediate admission to an intensive care unit (ICU). See the Health A-Z topic about Intensive care for more information.

The aim of treatment is to minimise the symptoms of Reye’s syndrome and support your child’s vital functions, such as their breathing and blood circulation. It is also essential to protect your child’s brain against permanent damage, which the brain swelling can cause.

Possible medicines

Your child may be given medicines intravenously (directly into a vein). Possible medication that your child could be given include:

  • chemicals and fluids to correct the blood chemistry and supply nutrients – for example, glucose (sugar)
  • diuretics – medication to help rid the body of excess fluid and reduce swelling in the brain
  • ammonia detoxicants – medication that reduces the level of ammonia (a toxic chemical produced by the body) in order to prevent it damaging the body
  • anti-emetic medication – anti-sickness medication to help prevent or reduce vomiting (although by the time a child is admitted to hospital they have usually stopped being sick)


Your child’s vital functions will also be closely monitored, including:

  • their heart and pulse rate
  • the air flow to their lungs
  • their blood pressure and blood flow
  • the pressure in their veins – known as central venous pressure (CVP)
  • the amount of oxygen in their blood
  • their body temperature
  • their urine output

A ventilator (breathing machine) may be used if the symptoms of Reye’s syndrome become severe and your child needs help with their breathing.

Once the swelling of your child’s brain has decreased, the rest of their body’s functions should return to normal within a few days. However, it may be several weeks before your child is well enough to leave hospital.

Last updated: 12 July 2012

Continue to next section: Complications of Reye's syndrome