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What is the Role of Aspirin in Triggering Reye's?

Reye's Syndrome:A Real and Present Danger

Epidemiological research has shown an association between the development of Reye's Syndrome and the use of aspirin (a salicylate compound) for treating the symptoms of influenza-like illnesses, chicken pox, colds, etc.

The U.S. Surgeon General, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics the National Reye's Syndrome Foundation, and WHO recommend that aspirin and combination products containing aspirin not be given to children under 19 years of age during episodes of fever-causing or viral illnesses.

Acetylsalicylate is another word for aspirin; some medicine labels may use the words acetylsalicylate, acetylsalicylic acid, salicylic acid, or salicylate instead of the word aspirin. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication.

It is possible to develop Reye's Syndrome without taking aspirin. However, the chances of developing Reye's Syndrome can be reduced by not giving aspirin to individuals for relief of discomfort or fever without first consulting a physician for each specific use. Anti-nausea medications may also contain salicylates and may mask the symptoms of Reye's Syndrome.

Teens are especially at risk of developing Reye's Syndrome due to self-medication. Too often, teens and tweens are ingesting aspirin-type products without parental knowledge. Teenagers should be made aware of the different forms of pain relievers on the market and make certain they check with a parent before using any medications. Teach them about Reye's. Teach them the dangers in sharing medications. Lock, or keep a close watch on medicine cabinets.
Aspirin or salicylate containing medications:

Epidemiologic research has shown an association between the development of Reye's Syndrome and the use of aspirin-type products for treating the symptoms of influenza-like illnesses and chicken pox. The National Reye's Syndrome Foundation, U.S. Surgeon General, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that aspirin and combination products containing aspirin not be given to children or teenagers who are suffering from one of these illnesses. This listing shows products containing aspirin or salicylate compounds. THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST!

There is not enough data in regards to other forms of salicylate other than aspirin associated with the development of Reye's Syndrome, but until further research has answered this question we recommend products listing these substances not be used at all in children and adolescents, because a virus may already be present before symptoms appear. Product ingredients may be reformulated periodically so always check the label.

When in doubt ask your doctor or pharmacist, and always read the lables. Manufacturers often change ingredients in their products!

A list of other names for aspirin or salicylates is located here. The NRSF offers an Android App that is everything about aspirin called "Aspirin; Sense and Sensitivity", including products that do and do not contain aspirin, and can be obtained in the Google Play Store located here.

Android Apps & eBooks The NRSF Blog School and Health Department Packages - Free! Talking to Tweens and Teens About Aspirin and Other Medications Join the Effort to Eradicate Reye's
We've created an App for the Android phone and tablets all about Aspirin, from lists of products containing and not containing aspirin, to drug interactions with aspirin, to diseases that aspirin negatively impacts...Learn More Our Blog is a great way to learn even more about aspirin and children, and get tips and hints about a range of things all centered around Reye's Syndrome and aspirin...Learn More The Foundation makes a special Reye's Syndrome Information package available to Schools, Health Departments, Human Resource Divisions, and to anyone who would like Reye's Syndrome information...Learn More Helping themselves, and sharing meds is a serious issue with Tweens and Teens. They do not realize the dangers involved, and often think OTC drugs are harmless. Talk to them about drugs, and Reye's... Learn More Through Awareness and Education, we can drastically lower the number of Reye's Syndrome cases. To do this, we need your help...Learn More


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In 1974, the National Reye's Syndrome Foundation, a children's health advocacy organization, was incorporated as a 501(c)3 charity, with a mission to eradicate the incidence of Reye's Syndrome.
The Foundation does not receive, nor seek, government funding, and relies on the generosity of donors for support of all programs.
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