Kawasaki Disease

What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki disease is characterized by swelling in the medium-sized arteries in the body. This includes the coronary arteries, which are the arteries that supply blood directly from the heart.

This name describes the fact that it affects lymph nodes, skin, the membranes inside the mouth, the membranes inside the nose, and the membranes inside the throat. The symptoms of the disease can be quite scary. However, many people recover from Kawasaki disease and go on to live normal lives.

What are the Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease?

The symptoms of Kawasaki disease appear in several phases as outlined above:

Phase 1

The symptoms of the first phase can include the following:

  • A fever that is higher than 102 F. This fever can last for longer than 5 days.
  • Red eyes that are not accompanied by a thick discharge.
  • A rash on the abdomen and back, as well as in the genital area.
  • Severely chapped lips, swollen tongue
  • The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet become red and swollen.
  • Sudden irritability.

Phase 2

In the second part of the disease, children may develop the following symptoms:

  • Skin peeling on the hands, feet, fingers, and toes. The skin usually peels in large sheets.
  • Pain in the joints
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen

Phase 3

The third phase of the disease is where the symptoms go away slowly. Children who have developed complications may take longer to recover.

For children who do not develop complications, it could be approximately eight weeks before their normal energy levels return.

Kawasaki Disease Causes

Scientists don’t know the exact cause of Kawasaki disease. However, researchers speculate a mixture of inherited and environmental parameters cause Kawasaki disease (KD). The disease tends to occur during a specific time of year, and it impacts children of Asian descent.

Risk factors of Kawasaki disease include transmission to children, especially those of Asian descent. In fact, about 75% of reported cases are among young children aged five and younger. Scientists don’t think that the disease is inherited, even though the disease tends to run in families. There is a positive correlation between family members of the same generation. The siblings of a child infected with KD are 10 times as likely to get the disease as those with no family history of KD.

How is Kawasaki Disease Treated?

One of the main goals of treatment is to prevent complications. Initial treatment for Kawasaki disease is given in the hospital. This is because the first phase is when the majority of complications occur during the first phase.

After the fever is controlled, your child may be released from the hospital. If your child develops a secondary condition, such as chickenpox, their treatment may be altered in order to prevent causing other complications.

Children who do not receive treatment for Kawasaki disease can develop heart problems, which may not be evident until later in life, or it could become evident immediately.

Kawasaki Disease Prevention

Because there is no known cause, prevention of Kawasaki disease is a matter of some speculation. The disease occurs in late winter or early spring, so environmental factors are thought to play a role. However, there are no conclusive studies linking environmental factors to predictable transmission of KD.

There are ways to prevent some of the complications that present in children who suffer from the disease. Children can be treated with aspirin, or immunoglobulin delivered intravenously (IVIG). IVIG reduces your child’s risk of developing KD induced heart problems.

Echocardiograms are an important preventive measure to ensure that your child does not develop heart problems following the disease. Even if your child returns to normal and doesn’t appear to have any health problems, annual echocardiograms are recommended as a preventive measure. If tests show an aneurysm or other heart abnormality, repeated echocardiograms can help your child receive any necessary treatment as early as possible.

There is no known proactive way to prevent your child from getting KD, or prevent your other children from getting it.