Strawberry, anyone? What you need to know about Kawasaki disease

Red. Heart-shaped. Cute. Everybody loves strawberries. You can just imagine it’s sour yet sweet taste and that amazing way it looks. For some, their obsession to strawberries might go on up to the point that they collect strawberry-themed stuff from strawberry headbands, pillows, and many more. But not at all times do strawberries represent good vibes, there are also times when strawberries might be unwelcome and unwanted. Take for example the case of Kawasaki Disease.

You may seem fascinated with its really nice name, but Kawasaki disease should never be taken lightly nor should you desire for your children to acquire it.

What is it Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease usually affects children ages 1-2 years old, more common in boys than girls, and becomes very rare in ages above 8 years old. It is a condition that affects blood vessels wherein the walls of small- and medium-sized arteries are inflamed throughout the body, including the coronary arteries, which is responsible for supplying blood to the heart muscle. It may also affect lymph nodes, skin, and the mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose and throat, thus another term coined for it called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome. The cause of this disease isn’t really known, however, it is observed that it is common during late winter and early spring.

Some parents might panic at the onset of some symptoms as they may seem very severe for a few days. However, children usually go back to their normal activities then. Furthermore, this condition is not contagious. Children with this disease might experience A fever lasting at least 5 days (usually 38.5 C); red eyes; body rash (at the trunk and genital areas); swollen, red, cracked lips and tongue (thus the term strawberry tongue); swollen, red feet and hands and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. These are symptoms one might feel during the first stage of the disease, on the second, one may experience peeling of the skin on the hands and feet, especially the tips of the fingers and toes, often in large sheets; joint pain; diarrhea; vomiting and abdominal pain. And for the last stage, signs and symptoms eventually fade away (if no complications take place).

Treatment

Kawasaki disease can be treated through administration of Immunoglobulin (IvIG) medicine intravenously to reduce the inflammation of the blood vessels. Aspirin may also be given to deal with pain and fever and at the same time, to lower the risk of blood clots, however, this medicine must not be taken without the prescription of the doctor as Reye syndrome may develop.

Though usually patients recover from this disease, this disease must not be taken lightly and be left untreated as there are also times wherein complications may develop. Damage may be done to the coronary arteries, and may get too large and form an aneurysm. Some arteries might become narrow and may be at risk for developing blood clots. And with all these artery damages, a child may suffer from a heart attack at a very young age.

Sources:

Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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