Although it is a relatively rare disease that many people have not heard of until recently, Kawasaki disease is still a serious health concern that all parents should be aware of.
What is Kawasaki Disease?
Kawasaki disease primarily affects kids younger than 5 years of age. Contrary to popular belief, kids of all races can get Kawasaki disease, although it is more prevalent in those of Asian or East Asian descent. Although the exact cause is unknown, it is thought to be an abnormal immune response to infection or a complication of other conditions such as COVID-19.
This condition is characterized by the inflammation of multiple systems in the body. It is a type of vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels). Along with an initial fever, kids with Kawasaki disease develop symptoms throughout the body including the eyes, lips, skin, and throat.
Kawasaki disease requires immediate treatment and can be fatal if not properly treated. In addition, serious complicates can occur such as coronary aneurysms, inflammation of the heart, and arrhythmias.
Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease
There are a few tell-tale signs of Kawasaki disease in kids including:
- Persistent high fever
- Red eyes
- “Strawberry tongue” (white bumps on the tongue)
- Red, cracked lips
- A sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes (especially in the neck)
- Swollen hands and feet
- Discoloration of the hands and feet (red-purple)
During the later stages of the disease, symptoms may include:
- Peeling of the skin (especially the hands and feet)
- Upset stomach
- Joint pain
- Elevated heart rate
Diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease
A through physical exam in conjunction with the evaluation of clinical signs is often enough to suggest a diagnosis of Kawasaki disease.
While this condition can mimic or accompany other viral or bacterial conditions, the systematic inflammation of the body often becomes obvious enough to warrant a definite diagnosis.
There are a few different ways that your doctor in Arvada can confirm a diagnosis of Kawasaki disease.
A suspected case of Kawasaki disease can be confirmed by conducting tests that look at the heart, such as an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram. In addition, urine and blood samples can be taken to rule out other illnesses by process of elimination.
Treatment Options for Kawasaki Disease
The treatment of Kawasaki disease often must take place in a hospital and includes giving the patient one dose of IV immune globulin antibodies to help fight off infection and multiple high doses of aspirin to help lower inflammation. It is very important that treatment for Kawasaki disease begins right away in order to prevent further complications. IV immune globulin treatment can help lower the risk of developing heart issues. Steroid treatments are another option useful in some cases and children may need to continue aspirin treatment at home.
Most children get better relatively quickly after treatment and the majority of patients will survive the illness with no long-lasting effects. It may be necessary to schedule a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist to monitor the heart for any post-disease complications.
If your child needs evaluation or treatment for symptoms suggestive of Kawasaki disease, please give us a call today to speak with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians.