Kawasaki Disease In Kids: What Is It?

Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease

What is Kawasaki Disease?

Kawasaki sounds more like a motorcycle then a disease, but if you don’t follow news that is heart-related, the Kawasaki disease in children is not something that you know about. The Kawasaki disease gets its name from a Japanese pediatrician, Tomisaku Kawasaki, who first described the Kawasaki disease in medical literature in 1967. The Kawasaki disease is a very rare childhood disease that affects children under the age of 8. It is caused by the inflammation of blood vessels including the coronary arteries that carry blood to the heart. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the Kawasaki disease is one of over 100 types of arthritis. Another name for the Kawasaki disease is mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, because it affects the lymph nodes (Lymph nodes are oval-shaped organs of the immune system) and mucous membranes of the lips, the tongue, and the mouth.

What causes Kawasaki Disease and who is at risk for it?

The cause for Kawasaki disease is unknown. It is not hereditary or contagious. It can happen mostly during late winter or early spring. However, there are few factors that can increase your child’s chances of getting the Kawasaki disease:

  • Kids under 5 yrs of age.
  • Male
  • Being of Japanese or Korean decent.

That being said, Kawasaki disease can occur in children of all races, ages, and genders. It was also found in a study at NIH that some kids had genetic predisposition to Kawasaki disease.

What are the symptoms of the Kawasaki disease?

The most common symptom of the Kawasaki disease is high fever that lasts for more than 5 days in spite of treating it with fever medicines. Other symptoms are in 3 stages:

Stage 1 (Week 1 to 2)

  • Red eyes, red lips, red palms, soles of the feet, rash in the genital area, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck which is caused due to inflammation of the blood vessels.

Stage 2 ( Week 2 to 4)

  • Stomach-ache,  joint pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Stage 3

  • Unless complications develop, symptoms go away in approximately 8 weeks.

How is the Kawasaki disease diagnosed?

Not all children have the common symptoms of the Kawasaki disease, so it is important for the pediatrician to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms. Other tests that your doctor might do are:

A blood test to check if blood vessels are inflamed.

An EKG to check if this disease has affected the heart.

A chest and lung X-ray.

A urine test.

What are the treatment options for Kawasaki disease?

The main goal in treatment options for the Kawasaki disease is to reduce the fever, inflammation, and prevent it from affecting the coronary arteries. Once it reaches the acute phase, the treatment options in such cases is to give a high dose of aspirin and as soon as the fever goes down, a low dose of aspirin to prevent blood clots in the inflamed arteries. Aspirin is associated with causing Reye’s syndrome in kids, but the Kawasaki disease is one of the rare exceptions where children are given aspirin under a doctor’s observation. Another one is to inject a medicine called immune globulin, which is an immune protein in the veins. Immune globulins are antibodies that protect against infectious diseases and if exposed to one, reduces the severity of the disease. Children who are given immune globulins should wait for 11 months before getting immunized for measles and chickenpox. Early treatment reduces the risk for severe complications.

Is there any research being done on Kawasaki disease?

Research is being done in many countries around the world including the United States for the cure for Kawasaki disease. The main focus of the research is the possible cause of the Kawasaki disease and also the treatment options for children who do not respond to Intravenous gamma globulin (IVIG); the intravenous medicine.

Because of the side effects of the conventional medicine are the any alternative remedies for the Kawasaki disease?

More research needs to be done about the use of alternative remedies for this disease. As inflammation is the root cause of all diseases, the question is, “Do the herbs or other homeopathic remedies which reduce inflammation work in bringing a cure for it?” The Cleveland Clinic states that, “inflammation is the process in which your body’s white blood cells and other agents ward off infection and foreign substances, including bacteria and viruses”.

Some of the anti-inflammatory herbs that have been used for centuries are:

Turmeric, Ginger, Garlic, Rosemary, Artichoke leaf extract, Cat’s claw, Flaxseed, Fenugreek, Garlic, Nettle root, and Licorice.

These herbs might be able to reduce the severity of symptoms if not cure it altogether, and can be added in conjunction with conventional medicines. If this works on other inflammatory conditions like arthritis, it should work on this disease of inflammation (Kawasaki disease).
Sources:

Livestrong-Kawasaki disease

Mayo Clinic- Kawasaki disease

Web MD- Kawasaki disease

NIH

 

 

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