Kawasaki syndrome, also known as Kawasaki disease, is a febrile illness that causes inflammation of artery walls throughout the body. The coronary arteries, those that send blood to the heart, are often affected. The disease also causes difficulties in the lymph nodes, skin and the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and throat. Kawasaki syndrome, named for the physician who identified it, primarily affects children under the age of 5.
Kawasaki Syndrome Symptoms
Typically, Kawasaki syndrome symptoms develop in phases. In the first phase, you may see:
- Extremely red eyes with no discharge
- Fever, often above 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit, lasting one to two weeks
- Rash on the trunk and genitals
- Red, dry and cracked lips
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen, red skin on the palms of hands and soles of feet
- Swollen tongue.
Additional symptoms appear in the second phase. These Kawasaki syndrome symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Peeling of the skin on hands and feet in large sheets, particularly on tips of fingers and toes
It is in the third phase that Kawasaki syndrome symptoms begin to fade and dissipate, though complications are possible.
Causes and Risk Factors of Kawasaki Disease
Although there are numerous theories linking Kawasaki disease to bacteria, viruses and environmental factors, none of been conclusively proven. There is currently no known cause of Kawasaki syndrome, though there do appear to be certain risk factors for the disease.
There are three common ties in the majority of cases of Kawasaki syndrome:
- Age: Children between the ages of 2 and 5 are the primary age group to acquire the disease.
- Ethnicity: Kawasaki disease is seen in higher rates among people of Asian descent.
- Sex: Boys develop Kawasaki syndrome more frequently than girls.
Complications of Kawasaki Syndrome
If caught early, within the first 10 days of onset, there are usually no complications associated with Kawasaki disease. Without treatment, complications are likely to arise. Vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels is one such complication. This is particularly dangerous if the coronary arteries are affected. Areas of the heart such as the lining, valves and outer lining can become inflamed. Irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, can also occur, along with abnormal functioning of heart valves.
Treatment for Kawasaki Syndrome Symptoms
Again, it is of utmost importance that your child be treated within 10 days of initial symptoms, in order to lessen chances of complication of Kawasaki disease. Intravenous doses of gamma globulin, an ingredient in the blood that helps to fight infection, are given upon diagnosis. High doses of aspirin may also be administered in cases of Kawasaki syndrome, in order to decrease the chance of heart problems.
Centers for Disease Control Staff. (2009). Kawasaki syndrome. Retrieved January 21, 2010, from the Centers for Disease Control Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/kawasaki/.
Klein, J. (2008). Kawasaki disease. Retrieved January 21, 2010, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/kawasaki.html#.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Kawasaki disease. Retrieved January 21, 2010 from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kawasaki-disease/DS00576.