What parents need to know about the Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki disease is an ailment that causes inflammation in the blood vessels across the body. The disease generally comes about in three phases and is amongst the major reasons behind heart diseases in children. Its onset can usually be identified with a prolonged high fever (that can go above 101 F) and swollen glands, especially in the neck. 

The illness mostly affects children who are younger than five years. If the symptoms are identified early on and treated promptly, the Kawasaki disease can get treated effectively.

What are the symptoms of Kawasaki Disease?

The signs and symptoms of the Kawasaki disease occur in three phases. The symptoms of the first phase can last for up to 2 weeks, and the second-phase symptoms generally start to show up as soon as the first phase ends. The third phase can stretch out for as long as 8 weeks, which involves the symptoms gradually phasing out. Here are the signs and symptoms you must look out for when trying to diagnose Kawasaki disease: 

First Phase Symptoms 

The first phase symptoms that can last for up to two weeks may consist of: 

  • A sore throat 
  • A pink rash on the legs, back, arms, and belly 
  • Cracked, swollen, and red lips 
  • Red eyes (bloodshot eyes) 
  • White coating on the tongue with red bumps (strawberry tongue) 
  • Swollen glands in the neck 
  • Swollen hand palms and foot soles with a purple-red color 
  • High fever that can last for more than five days (above 101 F) 

Second Phase Symptoms 

The second phase symptoms usually begin to show up as soon as the first phase ends. This transition can get characterized with: 

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Temporary hearing loss
  • Joint pain 
  • Peeling skin on hands and feet 
  • Enlarged bladder 

In case your child is facing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is advised to get in touch with a doctor or rush to your nearest hospital immediately.

What are the causes of Kawasaki Disease?

The causes of Kawasaki disease are still unknown. Most of the leading scientists have hypothesized that the Kawasaki disease could be caused because of a fusion of environmental and genetic factors. Moreover, the illness is common in children, especially those of Asian descent and under the age of 5.

How is Kawasaki Disease diagnosed?

Since there are no distinct tests to diagnose the Kawasaki disease, your doctor or paediatrician would first consider all of your child’s symptoms and then rule out diseases that have similar signs, such as measles, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and scarlet fever. 

Once the possibility of other diseases is ruled out, they would look for at least four-five symptoms that are associated with the Kawasaki disease, such as rashes, swollen lymph nodes, bloodshot eyes, high fever (above 101 F), and swollen lips. 

The doctor/paediatrician might also prescribe a few tests to observe whether the disease has had an effect on the heart or not. These tests might include an electrocardiograph, electrocardiogram, chest x-rays, and blood tests.

How is Kawasaki Disease treated?

Kawasaki disease in children is usually treated with: 

  • Intravenous (IV) dose of immune globulin (IVIG): It is administered once, and its proteins or antibodies assist in fighting infections. Treatment through an Intravenous (IV) dose of immune globulin reduces the risks of coronary artery aneurysms. 
  • A high dose of aspirin that minimizes inflammation in the body. The dosage needs to be continued till the blood tests reports show up and prove the inflammation has been reduced. 

This treatment should begin immediately once the illness has been diagnosed under the supervision of a doctor. However, in case the IVIG is not effective, steroids could be given as a substitute as it is also effective in lowering the risk of coronary aneurysms. It is important to note that in case a child is given a high dose of aspirin, he/she must get the annual flu vaccine to prevent the chances of any viral illness.

What are the complications of Kawasaki Disease?

Most of the children are able to completely recover from the Kawasaki disease with no health complications. However, in rare conditions, the illness could give way to: 

  • Vasculitis- Inflamed blood vessels 
  • Dysrhythmia- Unusual heart rhythms 
  • Mitral regurgitation- Damaged heart valves 
  • Myocarditis- Inflamed heart muscles 

These diseases could also serve as a gateway for other conditions, such as aneurysms that can weaken the artery walls.

To Conclude: 

Kawasaki disease mostly affects children aged below five years and can cause inflammation in the blood vessels across the body. Its treatment usually consists of an Intravenous (IV) dose of immune globulin (IVIG) and a high dose of aspirin. While most children are able to recover from this disease, some face long-term health complications, such as inflamed heart muscles and damaged heart valves.