Doctors can treat the symptoms of Kawasaki disease when it's caught early. Most
kids will feel better within a few days of starting treatment.
If the condition isn't found until later, patients can have serious complications
that affect the heart, such as:
an aneurysm (a bulge in the wall) of the coronary arteries, which supply blood
to the heart
inflammation of the heart muscle, lining, valves, and the outer membrane around
which are changes in the normal pattern of the heartbeat
problems with some heart valves
What Causes Kawasaki Disease?
Doctors don't know what causes Kawasaki disease. They believe it doesn't spread
from person to person. It's most common among children of Japanese and Korean descent,
but can affect any child.
How Is Kawasaki Disease Diagnosed?
Kawasaki disease symptoms can look similar to those of other childhood viral and
bacterial illnesses. Doctors usually diagnose it by asking about the symptoms (such
as a long-lasting fever) and doing an exam.
Doctors usually treat kids with Kawasaki disease by giving them:
intravenous (IV) dose of immune globulin (IVIG): These antibodies (proteins) help
fight infections. IVIG treatment also lowers the risk of coronary artery aneurysms.
IVIG is given once.
high-dose aspirin given by mouth to treat inflammation. Patients take aspirin
until blood tests show that the inflammation has improved.
Treatment begins as soon as possible. In some children, IVIG may not work and doctors
give steroids instead. Steroids can help prevent coronary aneurysms.
It's very important for children on high-dose aspirin to get the annual flu
vaccine to help prevent this viral illness. That's because there's a small risk
of a rare condition called Reye
syndrome in children who take aspirin during a viral illness.
Most children with Kawasaki disease start to get much better after a single treatment
with immune globulin, though sometimes more doses are needed.
What Else Should I Know?
Most kids with Kawasaki disease recover completely, especially when they are diagnosed
and treated early. Some, especially those who develop heart problems from Kawasaki
disease, might need more testing and to see a
(a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the heart).