Kawasaki disease is characterized by the walls of the medium-sized and small-sized arteries in the body becoming inflamed. This includes the coronary arteries. Also referred to as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, this condition can also affect the patient’s skin, lymph nodes and the mucous membranes found in the throat, nose and mouth. Kawasaki disease symptoms can be very scary for the patient. Patients should keep in mind that, in most cases, they will recover without any serious problems.
During the first phase, the patient may have a long-lasting fever of up to two weeks that is typically higher than 101.3 F. The patient’s eyes may be extremely red and their lips cracked, red and dry. Their tongue may be extremely swollen and red. The patient is often irritable. The skin of the soles of the feet and palms of the hands may be red and swollen. The trunk and genital area may be affected by a rash. Swollen lymph nodes, most often in the neck, are also possible.
During this stage, some of the more frightening Kawasaki disease symptoms may start to occur. This includes the skin on the feet and hands peeling. It often peels off in large sheets and the tips of the toes and fingers are most affected in most cases. Other symptoms during this stage may include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and joint pain.
During this phase, the patient’s symptoms tend to alleviate themselves slowly and disappear, unless the patient develops any complications. It may take patients up to two months before they notice that their energy levels are back to normal.
In children, this condition is the number one cause of acquired heart disease. Approximately, one in five children will develop heart problems. However, only a small percentage of these children go on to experience any lasting damage.
Myocarditis is a possible complication. This is a condition in which the heart muscle is inflamed.
Mitral valve regurgitation or another heart valve problem is possible. An abnormal heart rhythm may also occur.
The patient’s blood vessels may become inflamed, which is known as vasculitis. The coronary arteries are the ones usually affected. When these become inflamed, weakening can occur. This weakening may lead to the artery wall bulging, known as an aneurysm. Aneurysms increase the chance of the patient experiencing a blood clot that may block the artery. A blocked artery can cause life-threatening bleeding or a heart attack.
A small percentage of children who experience problems with a coronary artery will find this disease fatal even with treatment.
Children’s Hospital Boston. (2007). Kawasaki Disease Program. Retrieved on March 14, 2011 from Children’s Hospital Boston: https://www.childrenshospital.org/clinicalservices/Site468/mainpageS468P6.html
MedlinePlus. (2009). Kawasaki Disease. Retrieved on March 14, 2011 from MedlinePlus: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000989.htm