What is Kawasaki Disease ?
Kawasaki disease is a medical condition that mainly affects children below 5 years of age. The blood vessels are primarily affected by this condition causing them to swell. The condition is also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome because the lymph nodes, including the skin and mucous membranes in the throat, nose and mouth, are also affected. The symptoms are quite alarming, with fever reaching up to 39ºC and flaking skin. However, the syndrome is treatable and the prognosis is good.
It was Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki of Kawasaki, Japan who first identified the condition in 1967, and so was named after him. Approximately 80% of the cases of Kawasaki syndrome involve children less than 5 years old; though it is also seen in older kids and teenagers as well. The disease may affect children from all races but it is common among children with Japanese and Korean descent.
How important is it to seek immediate treatment for Kawasaki disease?
Kawasaki syndrome requires urgent treatment as there is a high possibility that it would lead to more serious life-threatening conditions. The syndrome can bring about a number of cardiac problems such as arrhythmia, vasculitis, pericarditis, meningitis and aneurysm. Around 20% of the patients suffer from some kind of cardiac problem and 2% die from complications every year. Coronary artery problems may also develop and it is quite deadly despite treatment.
How is Kawasaki disease diagnosed and treated?
Timely diagnosis is advantageous for the prevention of medical complications and life-threatening conditions. The syndrome is diagnosed through physical examination and a number of diagnostic tests, including:
- Urine test
- Blood test
- Liver function test
- Electrocardiogram or ECG
The treatment for Kawasaki syndrome is aimed towards alleviating the pain and inflammation as well as preventing the formation of blood clots and aneurysms. The patient will be administered with intravenous immunoglobulin and salicylic acid. The doctor may also prescribe over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers for persisting pain. If the condition does not improve with these medications, plasma exchange, which involves removing a fraction of the plasma from the blood of the patient in exchange for protein-enriched fluids, will be an option.
Kawasaki disease pictures