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Kawasaki disease

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Kawasaki disease, also known as Kawasaki syndrome, is a rare but serious inflammatory condition that primarily affects children, particularly those under the age of five. It can lead to inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body, including the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply the heart). Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent complications. Here are key points about Kawasaki disease:

  • Symptoms:
    • Kawasaki disease often starts with a fever that persists for at least five days.
    • Other common symptoms include redness and swelling of the hands and feet, rash, bloodshot eyes, swollen lymph nodes, and irritation and inflammation of the mouth, throat, and lips.
    • In some cases, children may develop a peeling skin rash, especially on the fingers and toes, a few weeks after the fever begins.
  • Complications:
    • If left untreated, Kawasaki disease can lead to complications, the most serious of which is coronary artery aneurysms or the weakening and enlarging of the coronary arteries.
    • Coronary artery aneurysms can increase the risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and other heart problems later in life.
  • Cause:
    • The exact cause of Kawasaki disease is unknown. It is believed to involve an abnormal immune response to an infectious agent, although the specific trigger has not been identified.
  • Diagnosis:
    • There is no specific test for Kawasaki disease, so the diagnosis is primarily clinical and based on the characteristic symptoms.
    • Doctors may perform blood tests, echocardiograms, and other imaging studies to assess heart involvement and rule out other conditions.
  • Treatment:
    • Early treatment is essential to reduce the risk of coronary artery complications.
    • Treatment typically includes intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), which is a concentrated solution of antibodies, along with high-dose aspirin to reduce inflammation and fever.
    • In some cases, additional medications or treatments may be necessary.
  • Hospitalization:
    • Children with Kawasaki disease are often hospitalized during the acute phase of the illness to monitor their condition and administer treatment.
  • Follow-Up Care:
    • After the acute phase, children with Kawasaki disease typically require ongoing monitoring, including echocardiograms, to assess coronary artery health.
    • Long-term follow-up is crucial to detect and manage any potential complications.
  • Prognosis:
    • With prompt treatment, most children with Kawasaki disease recover fully without complications.
    • Children with coronary artery aneurysms may require ongoing cardiology care.
  • Prevention:
    • There is no known way to prevent Kawasaki disease. It is not contagious and does not appear to be linked to any specific environmental factors.

If you suspect that your child may have Kawasaki disease due to the presence of persistent fever and other symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to reduce the risk of complications, especially involving the coronary arteries. Kawasaki disease is a serious condition, but with appropriate care, many children can recover and lead healthy lives.

The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician