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Kawasaki Disease - Symptoms & Treatment


Kawasaki disease is a rare condition. The disease occurs more often among boys. It affects more than 4,000 children each year. Affected children develop red eyes, red mucous membranes in the mouth, red cracked lips, a "strawberry tongue" and swollen lymph nodes. The cause of Kawasaki Disease is unknown, but if the symptoms are recognized early, kids with the disease can fully recover within a few days. Some doctors think it may be caused by a virus or a bacteria. The illness can last from 2 weeks to a few months. It's also known as Kawasaki syndrome or mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome. It is most common in children under five years old and most cases occur in children aged between nine months and two years. It can cause serious complications of the heart and the blood vessels that supply the heart. Some of these complications may be life-threatening. Kawasaki disease occurs most frequently in Japan, where the disease was first discovered. In the United States, Kawasaki disease is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children.

Kawasaki disease is a poorly understood illness. The condition is not preventable, but it's treatable in most cases. Kawasaki disease can cause inflammation of blood vessels in the coronary arteries, which can lead to aneurysms. The symptoms typically disappear within just two days of when treatment begins. Usually, if Kawasaki disease is treated within 10 days of when the first symptoms begin, no heart problems develop. Children over age eight are rarely affected. Children with Kawasaki disease have a fever (sometimes as high as 104°F) for 5 days or longer. The rash appears in a glove-and-sock fashion over the skin of the hands and feet which becomes hard, swollen (edematous), and then peels off. Some children with Kawasaki disease have diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Kawasaki disease might make your child very irritable and cross. Most children recover fully from the disease, but around one in five children develop heart damage as a result of the disease. Early treatment can help prevent heart damage.

Causes of Kawasaki disease

The common causes and risk factor's of Kawasaki disease include the following:

  • The exect cause of Kawasaki disease is not known.
  • It may be caused by a virus or a bacteria.
  • Genetic factors and the immune system may play a role.
  • Kawasaki disease may also be caused by a unique bacterial toxin.

Symptoms of Kawasaki disease

Some sign and symptoms related to Kawasaki disease are as follows:

  • A rash on the child's stomach, chest, and genitals.
  • Severe redness in the eyes.
  • Sudden onset of fever that lasts for 5 days or longer 
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Swelling and redness of the hands and feet, so the child may refuse to walk.
  • Cracking inflamed lips or throat; or red "strawberry" tongue.
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck.
  • Peeling skin in the genital area, hands, and feet (especially around the nails, palms, and soles).

Treatment of Kawasaki disease

Here is list of the methods for treating Kawasaki disease:

  • Usually, a child is treated with intravenous doses of gamma globulin (purified antibodies), an ingredient of blood that helps the child's body fight off infection. It is given in high doses.
  • Aspirin is often used to reduce fever, rash, joint inflammation and pain, and to help prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Sometimes cortisone medications are given.
  • Persisting joint pains are treated with antiinflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • Anticoagulant drugs: These medications, such as warfarin and heparin, help prevent clots from forming.
  • Corticosteroids have also been used with some success, especially when other treatments fail or symptoms recur, but have not usually been considered a first-line therapy.

 

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