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Medications used in Kawasaki Disease

What is Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease, also known as mucocutaneus lymph node disease, is an inflammatory disease affecting the small and medium sized blood vessel walls in the body. Its most significant and the most serious effect would be when it affects the coronary arteries and thereby lead to the formation of coronary artery aneurysms. Although the disease may look serious in most instances, it can be treated and in most instances the children who undergo this disease will recover without any complications.

What are its manifestations?

Kawasaki disease can affect various organ types in the body and as the latter definition of Kawasaki disease suggest, it can manifest on the lymph nodes, skin as well as the mucous tissues on the mouth, nose and on the throat. Thus, peeling of skin, reddened tongue or strawberry tongue, high fever, irritability, reddened and swelled up hands, red eyes without a discharge as well as lymph node swellings are characteristic of the disease process. At the same time, it should be remembered that these children usually develop the complications such as coronary artery aneurysm several weeks after the initial appearance of fever and therefore continued and followed-up management is necessary in instances of Kawasaki disease.

What are the medications used for Kawasaki disease?

Treatment for Kawasaki disease will aim to reduce the existing inflammation, reduce the fever and pain as well as to prevent any complications from developing in the arteries especially in the coronary arteries. Thus, the following medications are being used in treating a patient with Kawasaki disease.

Intravenous immunoglobulin:

This would be injected through a vein over several hours each day in the acute phase of the disease and would be rather effective in reducing the inflammation and therefore the risk of developing coronary artery aneurysm in susceptible individuals. It has shown to be highly effective in the treatment of Kawasaki disease although there can be anaphylactic reactions developing when such immunoglobulin is administered.

Aspirin:

Perhaps the most used treatment option for Kawasaki disease is the use of Aspirin and it has shown to reduce the inflammation, lessen the risk of blood clot formation if aneurysms have developed and would reduce the pain and fever to a certain extent as well. However, it is required to be given at a higher dose in the initial period and at a relatively lower dose till such time it could be accurately determined that there are no aneurysms in the heart vasculature. While using this medication, one should be vigilant as there is a possibility of developing Reye’s syndrome with prolonged use.

Anticoagulants:

Anticoagulants will be of use when there is a possibility of coronary artery aneurysm and will prevent the formation of clots within such developments.

As mentioned earlier, the treatment of Kawasaki disease should be in two stages and these are the acute stage and the continued phase. The clinicians will make the decision to treat depending on the outcome of the clinical condition as well as based on the investigative findings such as the echocardiogram and in certain instances; lifelong treatment may have to be initiated in case the complications could threaten the life of the affected.