Kawasaki disease is an autoimmune disease mostly affecting children. The signs and symptoms develop as a result of vasculitis which is inflammation of blood vessels. Additionally lymph nodes and heart can get affected. The disease is most present in Japan. It was even first reported in this country. The boys are affected more than girls. The disease is not fully understood.
Like majority of illnesses Kawasaki disease features with phases. There are three phases and all of them present with specific symptoms.
The first phase starts with increased body temperature (above 101.3 F). The fever may prolong up to two weeks. Inflammation of eyes in a form of conjuctivis is also present. The rash occurs and it spreads onto the trunk and genital region. Lips are dry and amazingly red. Edema of tongue is present as well. The tongue presents with the prominent lumps and this is why the tongue in Kawasaki disease is named strawberry tongue. The skin of the palms and soles is also red and edematous. There is even enlargement of lymph nodes either in the neck or in other regions of the body.
The second phase features with desquamation of the skin is on hands and feet. This phase also includes gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting and diarrhea or even pain in the stomach. Arthralgia is present as well.
The third phase is actually the phase in which all the signs and symptoms disappear and the patient's health improves. Hopefully patient recovers without any complications.
Possible complications includes formation of aneurysms. These can eventually burst and lead to severe hemorrhage. The heart attack is another complication of this disease and majority of heart attacks among young are actually a complication of Kawasaki disease.
The diagnosis is set basically according to the symptoms. All the children who suffer from high body temperature which cannot be reduced with antipyretics and lasts more than five days must be examined thoroughly. In this case a doctor must take into consideration possibility of Kawasaki disease. The patient is subjected to specific blood tests, chest X ray, ultrasonography of the heart and ECG is performed. Additionally urine samples are taken.
The treatment includes gamma globulin which is administered intravenously. After the drug is given the general improvement is quite evident. Still even in the case that therapy has started on time the child may end up with affected heart arteries. Since the disease is autoimmune corticosteroids may help with the vasculitis hence decrease the symptoms and possible damage.