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What Is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki disease may not be as widely known as chickenpox or the flu, but it's equally important to be aware of, as it can have serious implications if it’s not diagnosed and treated early. It predominantly strikes children, making it crucial for parents and caregivers to know about.

The providers at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut diagnose and treat vasculitis — a term used for various conditions that lead to inflammation of your blood vessels, including Kawasaki disease. Most children don’t experience serious issues if it’s treated within 10 days of onset.

What is Kawasaki disease?

This syndrome primarily affects children under age 5. It's characterized by inflammation in blood vessel walls throughout the body, including the heart’s blood vessels.

Though its exact cause is unknown, Kawasaki disease can severely impact a child's health if left untreated, leading to long-term heart problems. Early recognition and prompt treatment are vital for managing it and reducing the risk of complications.

Symptoms to look out for

The symptoms of Kawasaki disease often appear in phases. In the initial phase, which can last for up to two weeks, symptoms include a high fever that lasts for at least five days, severe eye redness, a rash on the main part of the body and red, dry, cracked lips. It can also cause the tongue to become red and swell. 

As the syndrome progresses, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea may occur, as well as peeling hands and feet. 

Diagnosis and evaluation

There's no single test to detect Kawasaki disease. Diagnosis involves a careful evaluation and ruling out other diseases like measles or scarlet fever.An echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to create images of the heart, is useful in checking for evidence of inflammation and evaluating the coronary arteries.

Treatment options

The goal of treating Kawasaki disease is to reduce inflammation and prevent damage to the heart and coronary arteries. The primary treatment is usually intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), antibodies taken from donated blood and administered in high doses. 

Aspirin is helpful for reducing fever, rash, and joint pain and preventing blood clots. Treatment for Kawasaki disease is most effective when started as soon as possible once the syndrome develops.

Long-term management and care

While most children recover from Kawasaki disease without serious problems, it’s important to continue monitoring their heart health. This may include periodic echocardiograms. Because of the risk of heart complications, some children may need longer-term heart care. 

Kawasaki disease, while rare, is an important pediatric illness that requires immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment greatly reduces the risk of long-term heart complications in children. 

Rest assured that your child is in good hands at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut in Manchester. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive vasculitis care. Call 860-646-9929 to schedule an appointment, or request one online.

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