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Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki Disease

Overview

Kawasaki disease is a disorder that results in inflammation of blood vessels in every part of the body. It is also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome because it can affect the skin, lymph nodes and mucous membrane inside the nose, throat, and mouth. The actual cause of this disease is not known. However, numerous studies have linked this disorder to the immune system. Kawasaki disease is not contagious and does not spread among people through contact. This disease is quite rare and primarily affects children under the age of five.

Perhaps the most common symptom of the Kawasaki disease is a fever that can last for up to more than five days. This fever does not decrease or get affected by common medications. Other symptoms which mark this disease include, but are not limited to:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, red eyes, erythema & swelling on hands & feet
  • Rashes in the genital area
  • A sore throat
  • Diarrhoea
  • Strawberry tongue & lip fissures

Also, children around the age of 1 to 2 years are at a higher risk of developing coronary artery aneurysm. In fact, the symptoms can be broadly classified into two types – cardiac and miscellaneous.

 

The actual cause of the Kawasaki disease is not known. However specific factors increase the risk of Kawasaki Disease:

  • Age: Kawasaki Disease is more likely to affect children under the age of 5
  • Gender: Boys are more likely to develop Kawasaki Disease
  • Genetics: Probably the most significant risk factor is having a first-degree relative with Kawasaki disease. The risk is increased if the parents had Kawasaki disease.

The accurate risk factor is unknown, but almost all the theories and research in this domain point towards the the body's response to a virus or infection combined with genetic factors may cause the disease.

 

Kawasaki disease can be diagnosed in case a person has the following symptoms:

  • Fever persists for more than five days
  • Irritability
  • Polymorphic rashes
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
  • Bilateral non-suppurative conjunctivitis
  • Multiple changes to the mucous membranes
  • Any substantial changes or redness of the throat, lips and tongue
  • Skin peeling and swelling

Since there are some cardiac symptoms associated with the disease, two-dimensional echocardiography is done to check for the presence of any coronary artery disease.

Furthermore, some tests may be carried out to support diagnosis of Kawasaki Disease. The tests include:

  • C-Reactive Protein (CRP) – It is the type of protein that is produced by the liver and causes inflammation. It is raised.
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) test – To check for inflammation by taking a sample of blood.
  • Platelet Count – In cases of Kawasaki disease, the platelet count is considerably higher than the normal limit.
  • Urine Test – This test is conducted to check if some other underlying condition is causing the symptoms.
 

The primary standard for Kawasaki disease treatment is the intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). This is administered in high doses and there is a marked improvement in a short span of time. However, patients are regularly monitored for any possible side-effects of IVIG. It is essential to consult a doctor for Kawasaki disease treatment and not rely on any alternative forms of treatment as they can have adverse effects.

 

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