Kawasaki Syndrome

Overview of Kawasaki Syndrome

Kawasaki syndrome or Kawasaki disease (KD) is a type of vasculitis in which inflammation (swelling) occurs in veins, capillaries, and arteries. It can affect the whole body and if left untreated, may cause inflammation of coronary arteries and the heart. It can affect the lymph nodes and is also known as, ‘mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome’.


Kawasaki syndrome (KS) affects children worldwide but has a high prevalence in Japan. It is most common in children aged less than 5 years, and less common in children aged 5-13 years. According to a study, it occurs 1.5 times more in boys than girls. Kawasaki syndrome tends to affect children, especially during the late spring and winter.  

Signs and Symptoms of Kawasaki Syndrome

The symptoms of Kawasaki disease vary at different stages.

The early stage of KD lasts for two weeks, and its symptoms include;

  • High fever lasts for five days
  • Rashes appear on the torso (upper body) and groin (lower body)
  • Bright red spots on the tongue often look like strawberry
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Redness on palms and soles of feet
  • Swelling in hands and feet

The late stage of KD begins after two weeks of fever. The symptoms include;

Skin from hands and feet starts to peel off in sheets

  • Temporary arthritis
  • Heart problem
  • Joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged gallbladder
  • Temporary hearing loss
  • Children who are more than five years or less than one year usually don’t show clear symptoms. Therefore, they are at high risk of developing complications related to heart disease.

Will your child develop heart disease in the future if once affected by Kawasaki syndrome?

The answer is NO!

If no damage occurred to the heart during the disease and all underlying symptoms recovered then, your child will not develop heart problems in near future.

Types of Kawasaki Syndrome

Causes of Kawasaki Syndrome

Kawasaki syndrome, also known as Kawasaki disease, is a rare but serious condition that mainly affects children under the age of 5. The exact cause of Kawasaki syndrome is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of the possible causes of Kawasaki syndrome include:

  • Infections: Kawasaki syndrome may be triggered by an infection, particularly a viral or bacterial infection. Some studies have suggested that a viral or bacterial toxin may cause the immune system to overreact, leading to the symptoms of Kawasaki syndrome.
  • Genetic factors: There may be a genetic component to Kawasaki syndrome, as it tends to run in families. Researchers have identified certain genes that may increase the risk of developing Kawasaki syndrome.
  • Environmental factors: Certain environmental factors, such as pollution or exposure to chemicals, may also play a role in the development of Kawasaki syndrome.
  • Immune system dysfunction: Kawasaki syndrome is believed to be an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues. This may be due to a dysfunction in the immune system, which can be triggered by various factors.
  • Other factors: Some other factors that have been suggested as possible causes of Kawasaki syndrome include allergies, stress, and certain medications.

It is important to note that while these factors may increase the risk of developing Kawasaki syndrome, they do not necessarily cause the condition in every case. Further research is needed to fully understand the causes of Kawasaki syndrome.


Risk Factors of Kawasaki Syndrome

The exact cause of Kawasaki disease is not known yet. However, some researchers believe that certain environmental factors and genes are responsible for causing KD based on its spring-winter seasonality occurrence.



There is no known way to prevent Kawasaki syndrome, but there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing it. Here are some measures that may help:

  • Maintain good hygiene: Wash hands regularly with soap and water, particularly before eating or touching your face.
  • Avoid exposure to sick people: Try to limit contact with people who are sick, particularly those who have a fever or rash.
  • Stay up to date with vaccinations: Vaccinations can help protect against certain infectious diseases that may trigger Kawasaki syndrome.
  • Seek prompt medical attention: If your child develops symptoms of Kawasaki syndrome, such as a fever, rash, or red eyes, seek medical attention immediately. Early treatment may help prevent complications.
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle: Encourage your child to maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet. A healthy immune system may help protect against Kawasaki syndrome.

It is important to remember that Kawasaki syndrome is rare, and most children recover fully with appropriate treatment. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications, so it is important to seek medical attention if you suspect your child may have this condition.



Further tests

After physical examination, laboratory tests are recommended i.e. blood test and urine test to look for the signs of inflammation.

  • Electrocardiography (ECG): It measures the electrical activity of the heart by attaching an instrument to a child's chest. ECG will tell the doctor about the rhythm of the heartbeat.
  • Echocardiography (ECHO): It uses sound waves to detect issues in heart function, valves, and coronary arteries.

Treatment of Kawasaki Syndrome | When to Consult a Doctor

Treatment of Kawasaki syndrome depends on your child’s age, fitness, severity, and symptoms of the disease. The doctor will prescribe your child two medications;

  • Intravenous gamma globulin (IVIG): Gamma globulin is given by injecting it into the blood vessel. It will help in reducing fever and prevent the blood vessels from damaging.
  • Aspirin therapy: Aspirin is prescribed two times a day. It will help in controlling fever and prevent blood clotting. At the start, a high dose is recommended and then a low dose is given with time.

Do not self-medicate Aspirin to your child! Must consult a doctor before giving the medicines.

Is aspirin safe for children?

Aspirin should be given in low doses to children under a doctor’s prescription. It shouldn’t be given to children under 12 years as it may cause some issues in small children.

When to consult a doctor?

If your child develops the symptoms of Kawasaki syndrome and is diagnosed by the Pediatrician, then you should continue the follow-up visits. If your child develops heart-related problems (severe cases), then you should consult a Pediatric cardiologist, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases in children.

In Pakistan, Kawasaki syndrome treatment is available in many well-known hospitals like Aga Khan University Hospital, Mayo Hospital, Jinnah Hospital, Services Hospital, Shifa International Hospital, Children Hospital, Doctors Hospital, and Medical Center.  

You can consult with a Pediatrician, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Kawasaki syndrome in our list of top doctors. You can easily connect with them anywhere in Pakistan via Healthwire.pk.

The criteria for diagnosing Kawasaki disease are the presence of some symptoms that must be present to rule out the disease i.e. fever for more than five days, skin peeling or swelling in hands and feet, swollen lymph nodes, skin rashes, and changes in mouth lining.