What is the Role of Aspirin?
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 recommend that aspirin and combination products containing aspirin not be given to children under 19 years of age during episodes of fever-causing 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.
Teenagers and adults are especially at risk of developing Reye's Syndrome due to self-medication. Too often, teenagers 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.