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Everything You Need to Know About Kawasaki Disease

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Everything You Need to Know About Kawasaki Disease

Cardiology | by Dr. Ashok B Malpani | Published on 01/02/2024


Introduction

Kawasaki disease is not a very common condition but is a serious one. This disease majorly affects children who are below five years old. However, the real cause behind this health problem is not known yet but it is believed to be linked to an unusual immune response that usually occurs due to bacterial or viral infections. Even after being such as rare disease, Kawasaki is becoming widespread across the world.

Hence, it is vital to notice the symptoms like red eyes, rash, and persistent fever. It leads to blood vessel inflammation, including the coronary arteries. Early diagnosis and intervention are important to prevent the probable dangerous side effects, like coronary artery aneurysms. If you suspect any of these symptoms, make sure to book your appointment with BM Birla Heart Research Center in Kolkata. You will find the appropriate diagnosis and treatment solutions with the assistance of experienced and qualified healthcare professionals.

In this blog, we will comprehensively discuss Kawasaki disease for your understanding. However, please note that we do not promote any sort of overlooking the doctor’s consultation as it is for information purposes only.

What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease also referred to as Mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome (KD) is an uncommon condition determined by veins, arteries, and capillaries inflammation. This condition leads to symptoms in the mouth, throat, and nose affecting the lymph nodes. Kawasaki disease is identified to be a main contributor to childhood heart disease. Initial diagnosis and treatment are essential because blood vessel inflammation, especially in the coronary arteries causes severe complications. Kawasaki disease affects young children and is determined by particular medical features, such as consistent fever and mucocutaneous manifestations. Medical professionals must identify and treat this probably dangerous condition at the earliest.

What are Kawasaki disease symptoms?

Kawasaki disease leads to developing various symptoms depending on person to person. However, there are some common symptoms such as: 

  • Extended Fever: It involves constant high fever lasting for five days or longer.
  • Rash: Children experience rashes that usually appear on the limbs and trunk.
  • Red Eyes: Conjunctivitis is one of the symptoms like red eyes without discharge.
  • Edema, or swelling of the hands and feet occurs and is usually accompanied by redness.
  • Irritability: The discomfort that the inflammation leads to kids getting agitated.
  • Mouth and Throat Changes: Redness, cracking, and a "strawberry tongue" are the evident symptoms of Kawasaki disease.

What are Kawasaki disease causes?

Kawasaki disease is determined as an idiopathic condition because its exact causes are still not known. However, there are several identified factors such as:

  • Immunological Factors: It is thought to be a genetic component of Kawasaki disease and this involves an unusual immune response.
  • Infectious Triggers: While a specific pathogen hasn’t been determined, viral or bacterial infections are believed to be probable triggers.
  • Environmental Factors: However, the particular nature of these factors is not known, there is a probability that some environmental influences play a role in the growth of Kawasaki disease.
  • Age and Genetics: The disease appears to be more common due to a genetic component, and it majorly affects young children, suggesting a potential age-related vulnerability.

What are the complications of Kawasaki disease if left untreated?

Kawasaki disease can cause serious complications if left untreated, underscoring the vital significance of receiving treatment as soon as possible. Among the complications are:

  • Coronary Artery Aneurysms: The risk of coronary artery aneurysms leads to long-term cardiovascular problems and is enhanced greatly when Kawasaki disease is left untreated.
  • Myocarditis: An inflammation affecting the function of the heart muscle.
  • Heart Valve Problems: Heart valve issues impact the heart's ability to pump blood.
  • Formation of Blood Clots: There are other cardiovascular risks associated with an increased vulnerability to blood clot formation.
  • Blood vessel inflammation increases the risk of systemic complications by spreading to other important organs.

How is Kawasaki disease diagnosed?

Kawasaki disease diagnosis is an intricate process involving both diagnostic testing and important clinical criteria. Here are the steps followed while diagnosing the condition:

  • Symptoms assessment: Healthcare professionals diagnose symptoms like persistent fever, rash, red eyes, swelling in the extremities, irritability, and noticeable changes in the mouth and throat.
  • Laboratory Tests: Blood tests are involved to determine increased levels indicative of systemic inflammation by assessing inflammatory markers like CRP and ESR.
  • Whole Blood Count: Identification of platelet counts and white blood cell counts aids in the identification of anomalies.
  • Echocardiography: This imaging test is essential for assessing the degree of cardiac involvement and identifying any possible side effects like anomalies in the coronary arteries.

What are the options available for Kawasaki disease treatment?

Kawasaki disease treatment must be considered as soon as possible to maximize results and reduce the possibility of long-term effects. The close association between healthcare experts and caregivers ensures a comprehensive and customized management strategy for Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease treatment aims to reduce the risk of inflammation, avoid complications, and aid in the patient's general recovery. Here are some options commonly recommended for Kawasaki disease treatment:

  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG): IVIG is a concentrated antibody solution directed intravenously to reduce inflammation and the risk of complications from coronary artery disease.
  • Aspirin therapy: A high-dose aspirin prescription is frequently given at first to reduce inflammation and fever. A lower maintenance dose is then given to prevent blood clot formation.
  • Steroid Therapy: When IVIG is unable to work properly, then corticosteroids are recommended as an additional measure to reduce inflammation.
  • Supportive Care: It's vital to stay properly hydrated and to keep an eye out for any probable complications, especially cardiac issues. 

Conclusion

In summary, comprehension of Kawasaki disease is vital for immediate diagnosis and treatment. It is essential to be mindful of its specific symptoms involving mucocutaneous manifestations and prolonged fever. The effects of this not-so-very-common disease can be greatly reduced with initial medical intervention, including IVIG and aspirin therapy. Promoting proactive healthcare practices and increasing awareness is important to guaranteeing the best possible outcomes for patients with Kawasaki disease.

FAQ-

 

Can you get Kawasaki disease twice?

Kawasaki disease cannot occur twice, it happens in a very rare case. 

Is Kawasaki disease lifelong?

Kawasaki disease is not a lifelong disease and can be treated with early intervention and medical treatment. 

How rare is Kawasaki disease?

It is not a very common condition and usually occurs mostly in the developed countries.