Kawasaki Disease

What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease (KD) is an illness in children that causes fever and inflammation of blood vessels. KD can damage blood vessels in your child's heart and lead to life-threatening heart problems, such as a heart attack. The exact cause of KD is unknown. Caregivers believe it may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection.

What are the early signs and symptoms of KD?

  • Fever

  • Red, dry, cracked lips

  • A red tongue with small raised bumps

  • Red eyes

  • Skin rash

  • Swollen lymph nodes in his neck

  • Redness, swelling, or peeling on the palms of his hands and bottoms of his feet

What other signs and symptoms may my child have with KD?

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Crying or fussing more than usual

  • Joint pain and swelling

  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea

  • Difficulty urinating or pain while urinating

  • Yellowing of his skin or the whites of his eyes

How is KD diagnosed?

Your child's caregiver will ask about your child's symptoms and when they started. He will examine your child and listen to his heart. There is no specific test to diagnose KD. Your child may need any of the following tests:

  • Blood and urine tests give information about your child's overall health, such as his liver and kidney function. These tests will also show if your child has an infection.

  • An EKG records your child's heart rhythm and how fast his heart beats. It is used to check for heart damage.

  • An x-ray, echocardiogram, CT scan, or MRI may be used to help caregivers see your child's heart and blood vessels. Your child may be given contrast dye before these tests. Tell the caregiver if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if your child has any metal in or on his body.

How is KD treated?

  • Medicines:

    • Aspirin helps prevent blood clots. Aspirin may cause your child to bleed or bruise more easily. If you are told to give your child aspirin, do not give him acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Give aspirin to your child exactly as directed. Aspirin may cause a serious illness called Reye syndrome. Reye syndrome may cause brain and liver damage. Ask your child's caregiver for more information about Reye syndrome.

    • Anticoagulants are a type of blood thinner medicine that helps prevent clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Anticoagulants may cause your child to bleed or bruise more easily.

      • Watch for bleeding from your child's gums or nose. Watch for blood in his urine and bowel movements. Have him use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush. Have him avoid activities that can cause bruising or bleeding.

      • Tell your child's caregiver about all medicines your child takes because many medicines cannot be used with anticoagulants. Do not start or stop any medicines unless your child's caregiver tells you to. Tell your child's dentist and other caregivers that he is taking anticoagulants. Have him wear a bracelet or necklace that says he takes this medicine.

      • Your child will need regular blood tests so his caregiver can decide how much medicine he needs. Give him anticoagulants exactly as directed. Tell your child's caregiver right away if you forget to give your child the medicine, or if he takes too much.

      • If your child takes warfarin, some foods can change how his blood clots. Do not make major changes to his diet while he takes warfarin. Warfarin works best when your child eats about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, grapes, and other foods. Ask for more information about what to give your child to eat when he takes warfarin.

    • Immune globulin may be given to help your child's immune system fight his infection.

    • Immune therapy may be given to decrease damage to your child's blood vessels.

    • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.

  • Surgery may be needed to increase blood flow or replace blocked blood vessels.

How can I help care for my child?

  • Apply cream on areas where your child's skin is peeling, such as on his hands and feet. Use lip balm if his lips are dry or sore.

  • Prevent dehydration if your child has diarrhea. Give him more liquids to drink. Ask your child's caregiver how much liquid he should drink and if rehydration drinks may help.

  • Prevent constipation. Give your child more liquids and foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These will help soften his bowel movements. Activity may help prevent constipation. Ask your child's caregiver about activities that are safe for your child.

  • Ask about vaccines. Your child may need to wait for a period of time after KD to be vaccinated.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your child will not eat or drink, and becomes weaker.

  • Your child is taking aspirin and has been around someone with the flu or chicken pox.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child has blood coming from his nose or mouth.

  • Your child has blood in his urine or bowel movements.

  • Your child faints.

  • Your child has severe abdominal pain.

  • Your child has sudden trouble breathing.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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