Kawasaki disease is an illness that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. It can have a serious long-term effect on the heart. The condition affects kids younger than five years old. In the U.S., 19 children in every 100.000 are admitted to the hospital every year.’
Inflammation occurs in the walls of the arteries throughout the body, including the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. However, Kawasaki disease does not just affect the heart. It can also cause problem with lymph nodes, skin, and lining of the mouth, nose, and throat.
Signs and symptoms develop in three phases.
Acute Phase (Phase 1)
Symptoms appear from day 1 to 11 and they appear really sudden and are usually intense. These symptoms include high body temperature or fever which continues for at least 5 days and may reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius. The patient also has conjunctivitis in both eyes, sore throat, dry lips, red swollen tongue, rashes on the arms, legs, and torso, between the genitals and the anus.
Sub-acute (Phase 2)
Symptoms appear from days 12 to 21 and are less severe, but may persist longer. These include peeling of the skin on toes and fingers, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, joint pain, jaundice, swelling, and lack of appetite.
Convalescent (Phase 3)
This phase lasts from about day 22 to 60. The symptoms improve and the patient recovers until most of the signs of the disease are gone. Children who had Kawasaki disease are required to undergo evaluation with an echocardiogram.
Scientists have not found the exact cause for Kawasaki disease, but they think it’s linked to a combination of genetics, exposure to viruses and bacteria, chemicals, and irritants. Kids are more likely to get it in the winter and spring.
The symptoms of Kawasaki disease is similar to other childhood diseases, including measles, scarlet fever, and juvenile arthritis. A physician might order blood and urine tests, as well as other tests that measure platelet count and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. They might also order a C-reactive protein test, albumin test, and sodium test.
A child who suffers from Kawasaki disease may experience a lot of pain from the fever, swelling, and skin irritation. Because of these, doctors might prescribe medication such as aspirin and others that prevent blood clots. Doctors may also prescribe IV of immune globulin, which is said to be effective when given with aspirin than aspirin alone. It will lessen the chance of heart issues when used early in the treatment.
Important note: You should not give your child any medication without talking to your doctor first.
Since Kawasaki disease affects the arteries of the heart, it would be best to monitor it after treatment. If there are any indications of heart problems, the doctor may order follow-up tests, usually 6 to 8 weeks after the symptoms started. If heart problems persist, the physician may refer the patient to a cardiologist for a more specific diagnosis.
If the disease is left untreated, serious complications including aneurysm may occur. Other complications include malfunction of the heart muscles and heart valves, myocarditis or the inflammation of the heart muscle, pericarditis, or the inflammation of the lining around the heart, and worst, heart failure or heart attack.