Pronounced: Kah-wah-sock-eeEn Español (Spanish Version)
Kawasaki disease is a type of inflammatory disease that usually only affects children. Typical symptoms include high fevers, swollen lips and throat, swollen lymph nodes, and peeling hands and feet.
Usually, it's a self-limited condition that has a mild, uncomplicated course and children often recover without treatment. However, more serious cases can lead to complications that affect the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply the heart with blood.
If these coronary arteries become inflamed, the wall of the arteries may weaken. This weakening can cause a focal dilatation of a blood vessel, which is called an aneurysm . An aneurysm can lead to blockage of the artery. If these blockages occur, the heart, which is a muscle, will suffer from insufficient oxygen. This can cause chest pain ( angina ). It can even cause a heart attack and permanently damage the heart. Early treatment can help prevent these aneurysms from developing.
This is a potentially serious condition that requires care from your doctor. The sooner Kawasaki disease is treated, the more favorable the outcome. If you suspect your child has this condition, contact your doctor immediately.
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A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors increase your chance of developing Kawasaki disease:
If your child experiences any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to Kawasaki disease. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions.
There is no specific test to diagnose Kawasaki disease. Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose Kawasaki disease using the following diagnostic criteria:
Blood and urine tests may be performed to rule out other conditions and to document the presence of anemia and inflammation.
Additional tests will also be ordered be ordered to assess for potential involvement of the heart and coronary arteries:
The goal of treatment is to prevent any damage to the coronary arteries and the heart. It is also important to make your child as comfortable as possible as the illness runs its course. The earlier treatment is started the better. Early treatment can prevent long-term heart and joint problems. Treatment is usually given in the hospital and a pediatric cardiologist may come to examine your child.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include the following:
High doses of aspirin are given to:
It is important to note that if your child is given aspirin therapy and develops signs/symptoms of a viral infection, especially chickenpox , the physician should be consulted about discontinuing aspirin therapy. Aspirin has been associated with the development of Reye’s syndrome , a potentially fatal condition.
If treatment is given early in the illness, your doctor may administer this protein found in the blood that helps fight infection and lessens the risk of developing problems with the coronary arteries.
This is a process in which the fluid part of the blood, called plasma, is removed from blood cells by a device known as a cell separator. With Kawasaki disease, it is only used in rare and selected cases.
If Kawasaki disease leads to complications (eg, heart failure ), they will need to be treated accordingly.
Last reviewed November 2008 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.