Kawasaki disease happens in children under the age of 5.

This condition causes inflammation in blood vessels that carry blood throughout your body.

That means it also inflames the coronary arteries that carry oxygenated blood to the heart.

Other than that, it causes inflammation in the nose, lymph nodes, eyes, mouth and throat.

This is a treatable condition whereby the children can recover soon.

However, they should get treatment within 10 days of its onset.

In order to recognize that, you must know its symptoms.

This article discusses just that.

Plus, also get to know the causes and treatment of this disease.

kawasaki disease symptoms, swollen and red mouth of baby

Kawasaki Disease Symptoms

Firstly, your child will have a fever.

This is one of the main symptoms.

The fever will be 39 degrees Celcius which is 102.2. degrees Fahrenheit.

This fever must have persisted for five or more days.

Other than that, your child may suffer from four of these five symptoms.

  • they will have an enlarged lymph node in their neck
  • the lips will be red, dry and cracked whereas the tongue will be swollen and red like a strawberry tongue
  • a rash present on the body’s main part or the genital area
  • red skin and swelling on palms and soles of feet which leads to peeling of skin in the toes and fingers
  • they will have red eyes without any thick discharge

However, these symptoms do not happen at the same time.

Therefore, you should tell the doctor about any that have already passed away.

Other than that, signs and symptoms such as abdominal pain, irritability, diarrhea, joint pain and vomiting may happen too.

Children may also have a fever accompanied by less than four symptoms.

That indicates an incomplete Kawasaki disease.

signs and symptoms for Kawasaki disease

Though, children going through that are still at a risk for coronary artery injury.

They require treatment within 10 days.

The symptoms of Kawasaki disease are also similar to the multisystem inflammatory syndrome..

This disease occurs in children with Covid-19.

Hence, the doctor will also check your child in case they have contracted the coronavirus.

Either way, if your child has a fever of 39 degrees Celcius lasting beyond three days, it is time to visit the doctor.

Getting treatment within 10 days will help to reduce the chances of damage to the coronary arteries.

These supply oxygenated blood to the heart muscle hence they are extremely important to your child’s health.

Take your child to the doctor sooner.

causes and risks

Kawasaki Disease Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of the disease is unknown.

It could be because of a bacterial or viral infection.

However, it could also result from an irritant, chemical or other environmental factors present around a child.

In fact, the child’s genetic makeup can also make them more susceptible to getting the disease.

One thing is confirmed, the disease is not contagious.

It will not spread from the child to someone else.

However, there are risk factors that make some children more likely to get it than others.

Firstly, boys are generally more likely to develop this disease than girls.

It also impacts in accordance with the child’s ethnicity.

For instance, those children of Asian pacific descent like the Japanese and Korean, tend to have a higher risk.

The age of your child matters too.

While this disease happens only in children, those that are younger than 5 years old are at a greater risk.

Another unusual risk factor can be the season.

This could also point toward it being linked with bacterial and viral infections.

The disease occurs seasonally.

For instance, in North America, this disease occurs during early spring and winter.

Hence, environmental factors can also have a link with the onset of the disease.

So now your child is already suffering from these symptoms, what should you do next?

The next step is to take them to your health professional for a diagnosis.

diagnosing the condition

Diagnosing the Problem

While your doctor will have an idea by checking the child’s symptoms, they will first rule out other diseases.

There is no diagnostic test for Kawasaki disease hence, they will carry out tests for conditions that show similar signs and symptoms.

Joint pain could signal juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, if mucus membranes are affected then that could also be due to Steven-Johnson syndrome.

Other diseases they may think of are, toxic shock syndrome, and scarlet fever which causes rash, fever, sore throat and chills.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, other tick-borne illnesses and measles are the diseases the doctor may want to rule out.

That will happen by carrying out:

  • physical examination
  • blood tests
  • urine tests
  • electrocardiogram
  • echocardiogram

A blood test will first help to rule out all other diseases.

Moreover, if you have a high white blood cell count, inflammation and anemia, then those are signs of Kawasaki disease.

After that, both an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram will check the condition of the heart.

This disease affects the heart, so once diagnosed, the doctor needs to check your child’s heart.

In an electrocardiogram, electrodes are attached to the skin in order to measure the electrical impulses of your child’s heartbeat.

This is to check the heart’s rhythm which the disease can possibly affect.

Next, there is the echocardiogram.

This test overall shows how the heart is working using ultrasound images.

As there is a risk of coronary artery illness, this test identifies any problem with the arteries.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the treatment will begin.

It begins immediately to prevent any long-term complications. More on that below!

treatment for kawasaki disease

Treating Kawasaki Disease

Initially, the doctor will try to lower the fever as well as the inflammation.

That will help in preventing heart damage.

Next, they will begin the treatment with:

Gamma globulin Infusion 

Gamma globulin is an immune protein.

The doctor will first try to infuse it through the veins in order to reduce the risk of coronary artery problems.

It also reduces inflammation in the child’s vessels.

Aspirin

Next, the doctor will give high doses of aspirin which also help to reduce the inflammation.

It will also take care of the pain, fever and joint inflammation.

Don’t worry, the doctor will lower the aspirin dose for your little one once the fever has gone for 48 hours.

You may have heard that aspirin is not the best for children.

It can give them Reye’s syndrome which is life-threatening for children that are recovering from chickenpox and flu.

However, Kawasaki disease is an exception and children should be given the dose only in the supervision of a doctor or nurse.

The initial treatment only happens in the care of doctors in a hospital.

However, things may change after that.

What Happens After Initial Treatment? 

The doctor may give the child a low dose of aspirin for the next six weeks when the fever goes down.

Since aspirin prevents blood clotting, they may give it for longer if the child gets a coronary artery aneurysm.

Although, if the child develops flu or chickenpox during the treatment, it needs to be stopped immediately in case they develop Reye’s syndrome.

The child’s condition starts to improve after the first gamma globulin infusion.

However, the disease will last only 12 days without treatment too.

Though, that may cause heart problems that can last a very long time.

Hence, your doctor will keep monitoring that.

condition complications

Follow-ups and Complications

If any signs of a heart problem are present then your child’s heart health needs constant monitoring.

There will be follow-ups every 6 to 8 weeks and then six months later.

Though, if problems persist, your doctor may recommend seeing a pediatric cardiologist.

The treatment will be according to the complication.

Complications 

There can be lasting damage in a few children even after treatment.

This disease is one of the leading causes of acquired heart disease among children.

Other complications can be heart valve problems, inflammation of the blood vessels that are responsible for supplying the heart with blood as well as heart muscle inflammation.

Inflammation of the artery can cause coronary artery aneurysms.

It weakens and bulges the artery wall.

As a result, blood clots increase.

This can cause heart attack and also lead to internal bleeding which is life-threatening.

For children who develop an aneurysm, a small percentage of those can face death.

Thus, the complications can damage the heart health and overall health of your child.

This is why timely treatment is important.

Vaccination Care 

If your child gets gamma globulin treatment, you should wait 10 months to get them any live vaccine such as that measles or chickenpox.

Gamma globulin may end up affecting the efficacy of these vaccines.

Hence, if any doctor insists on getting them the vaccine, let them know your child has had Kawasaki disease before.

Last Thoughts, 

Kawasaki disease is one disease you need to beware of.

If your child’s fever persists beyond three days, do not try to treat them on your own.

It could be pointing toward this disease and the heart damage may have already started.

hence, get prompt treatment for Kawasaki disease to prevent any future complications for your child so that they can live a healthy life.