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Kawasaki Disease Symptoms and causes Kawasaki Disease Symptoms and causes

Kawasaki Disease Symptoms and causes


Surya Hospital

January 12, 2024 |
9 Min Read | 215

Despite being a rare condition, Kawasaki disease is something that every parent should be aware of as it can affect any child and give rise to symptoms that can impact the quality of their lives. In this blog, we have tried to cover every aspect of the disease ranging from its symptoms, causes, stages, diagnosis, treatment and everything else you need to know. Continue reading to learn more. 

What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki disease or Kawasaki syndrome, is a cardiovascular ailment characterized by severe inflammation, swelling and redness in a child’s blood vessels. The condition can affect blood vessels in any area of the child’s body and it typically progresses through three different stages. Over time, the blood vessels of a child stretch out and become weak, as a result of which they are at a higher risk of developing tears. The disease can negatively impact the flow of blood to different areas of the body, depriving the organs and tissues of essential nutrients and oxygen.

While any child is at risk of developing the disease, it is very common in kids who lie in the age group of 6 months to 5 years. The condition can be extremely dangerous if it involves the coronary artery which is responsible for supplying blood to the heart disease. Experts suggest that early diagnosis and prompt medical action can help children with Kawasaki disease lead a healthy life. 

Origin of Kawasaki Disease

The first case of Kawasaki disease was seen in Japan in 1967. Similar cases were then seen in Hawaii, USA. As of now, the cases are being reported from different parts of the world including several areas from India as well. A

How common is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki Disease is quite rare, however, it happens to be the leading cause of heart problems acquired after birth. The incidence is comparatively higher in kids who have not reached 5 years of age. If we speak in terms of numbers, the condition affects about 60 to 150 kids in a population of 100,000 kids who are not older than 5. 

How does Kawasaki Disease Manifest?

Kawasaki disease can manifest in different ways giving rise to symptoms that may vary from one child to another. A child suffering from the condition may complain of or present with the following symptoms:

  • If your child has a severe fever that lasts for more than 5 days
  • If your child is unusually cranky or irritable
  • If your child's eyes seem to be pink or red, but there are no tears or discharge
  • If your child’s lymph nodes seem to be swollen
  • If your child's lips tend to crack very easily or have become red
  • If you notice an unusual swelling or redness in your child's limbs
  • If your child’s skin appears to be flaky and peels off very easily
  • If your child develops redness and rashes in any part of the body. especially around the trunk
  • If your child is complaining of stomach ache or has an upset stomach. 

Being a parent you need to understand that all the symptoms do not necessarily mean that your child has Kawasaki Disease. These could be related to some other condition as well. Hence it is important to consult a specialist as soon as you notice any unusual signs and go for a proper diagnosis to make sure that your child receives the right care at the right time. 

What causes Kawasaki Disease?

A lot of you must be thinking about what causes Kawasaki Disease. Unfortunately, the answer to this is not known. Experts have however pointed out that in the majority of the cases, the onset is seen in the late months of winter and early spring. Some also believe it to be the result of an infection. 

How does Kawasaki Disease progress?

Kawasaki disease progresses through 3 clinical stages. These are the Acute stage, Subacute stage, and Convalescent stage. 

  • The acute stage is marked by the sudden onset of fever that lasts for around 5 or more days, along with symptoms such as rashes, pink eyes, swollen lymph nodes, red lips, red tongue, etc. 
  • The subacute stage begins after the fever is gone and is characterized by symptoms like stomach ache, diarrhea, joint pain, and peeling of the skin. 
  • The convalescent stage is the last stage during which the symptoms subside. This, however, does not mean that the problem is over, as in some cases complications may arise during this stage. 

Can Kawasaki Disease spread from one child to another?

Fortunately, the answer to this is no. Kawasaki disease is not contagious at all, which means that it does not pass from one child to another. So, parents need not be worried about the spread. 

Who is at risk of developing Kawasaki Disease?

There are some factors that can put a child at an increased risk of developing Kawasaki disease. Wondering what are these?

  • If the child is a boy
  • If the child is below 5 years of age
  • If the child is of Asian descent

These are just risk factors and not necessary factors, which means that children can develop the problem even if they don’t relate to any of these factors. 

Can Kawasaki Disease lead to serious complications?

As per the top experts from the best hospital in India, early diagnosis and treatment are very crucial for kids with Kawasaki Disease. This is because the condition has been associated with a wide range of complications that can have a drastic impact on the child's overall well-being. 
Some common complications that you should know about, include:

  • Aneurysms, which develop as a result of the overstretching of the arteries. 
  • Development of blood clots in the coronary artery
  • Narrowing or rupturing of the coronary artery
  • Functional defects related to the heart valves
  • Severe inflammation in the child’s heart or lungs
  • Compromised or reduced heart function
  • Abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmias
  • Heart attack in extreme cases. 

How is Kawasaki Disease diagnosed?

As of now, there is no particular test that can help to diagnose Kawasaki disease and doctors generally resort to several diagnostic modalities that can help to support the diagnosis or rule out its possibility. 

If your child is presenting with the symptoms of Kawasaki disease, doctors will first conduct a physical examination to evaluate the symptoms, and based on these further tests will be recommended. Some of the most common of these include:

  • Blood tests, to detect any bacterial or viral infections which can present with the same symptoms as Kawasaki disease. 
  • Urine tests for detecting conditions like measles and rheumatoid arthritis, which can manifest in a somewhat similar way to Kawasaki Disease.
  • Echocardiogram for thoroughly analyzing the child's heart and arteries to detect any inflammation or abnormality. 
  • Imaging modalities like electrocardiogram (EKG), computerized tomography (CT scan), and Magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) for precisely visualizing the heart and blood vessels. 

Can a child with Kawasaki Disease be treated?

Kawasaki disease can be effectively managed with proper and timely medical intervention. This is done with the help of medication and surgery is needed in extreme cases to manage the complications related to Kawasaki Disease. 

The treatment generally focuses on reducing the damage to the blood vessels, alleviating the risk of clot formation, and preventing serious complications. Common treatments include:

  • Intravenous administration of immune globulin (IVIG). This helps to lower the risks of developing an aneurysm. In the majority of the cases, only one dose is given. In around 10 per cent of the cases, the child may not respond to the first dose and the second one may be needed. 
  • Doctors may prescribe aspirin for managing inflammation. This is given orally and can be stopped as soon as the inflammation subsides. 
  • Medication may be prescribed for managing pain and swelling. 
  • Anticoagulants may be prescribed for children who are at a higher risk of developing blood clots. 

Is it possible to prevent Kawasaki Disease?

No, it is not possible to prevent Kawasaki disease as the underlying cause is not known. However, you can surely prevent the complications associated with it by watching out for the symptoms and seeking proper medical help at the earliest.

Long-term outlook: A guide for parents

Your child will be admitted to the hospital during the course of the treatment and discharged once doctors make sure that there is no sign of fever or inflammation. Even after the treatment, it is important to go for regular checkups to ensure that the symptoms do not come back and to keep track of your child's prognosis. Your child needs an Echocardiogram during the recovery phase, to anace are quite low, they are never completely zero. lyze how their heart is responding to the treatment. Although the risks of recurren

If we speak of long-term Outlook it majorly depends on the severity of the damage caused by the condition and the complications triggered by it. Some children can take longer than others to recover but with proper medical guidance, your little one will surely thrive in the best way possible. 

To know more about Kawasaki disease and its management you can consult the experts from one of the best hospitals in India, Surya Hospitals

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