Boy left with heart issues after getting Kawasaki disease
It's important to be aware of this disease and know its symptoms.
Every time we read about the occurrences of Kawasaki disease in children, we can't help but think how tricky this disease is to diagnose. Despite the race against time to treat it within 10 days to avoid heart problems, symptoms of Kawasaki disease are not always apparent.
In some cases, not all symptoms will appear as usual. Doctors need four out of five symptoms to classify the child's condition as Kawasaki disease.
Mum shares her experience when her son was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease
When Owen first got sick, nobody knew what it was. Shanna Howat shared on Instagram how he was sick for nearly two weeks and had to be hospitalised for a total of six nights.
The doctors there ran numerous tests and came up with a different diagnosis almost every day. But despite all that, Owen still did not show signs of recovery. Worried, Shanna pushed for Owen to be admitted that night for further observation.
At first, he was showing symptoms similar to meningitis. Later, they thought it might be an ear infection, then strep throat, and even, Enterovirus.
Still, nobody could confirm what was making Owen so sick. Shanna and husband Mark began bouncing ideas off each other every time a new symptom showed.
In the end, Owen went back to emergency after being discharged for 24 hours, only to find out they were symptoms of Kawasaki disease.
Not only did Shanna and Mark have to find out that their son had an auto-immune disease which causes inflammation throughout the body and targets the heart and coronary arteries, it was also day eight of the disease for Owen.
Damage in One of His Coronary Arteries
Doctors immediately put Owen on an IVIG treatment (also known as immunoglobulin therapy). Soon afterwards, he began showing improvements. But there was still the risk of damage to the heart to be concerned about.
Usually, if treatments are underway before day 10, there should be no lasting effects on the heart or arteries.
Unfortunately, when echocardiogram results came out, they discovered that one of the coronary arteries in the left chamber of his heart was damaged. There's not much to do for now but continue with life as normal. To cope, Owen is given daily doses of aspirin to help prevent clots that could cause an aneurysm.
"This disease is confusing, not many people know about it. The doctors and nurses in Guelph admitted they don’t see it often, they aren’t very familiar with it. Luckily for us, on our second emergency visit, the pediatrician was too confused by Owens array of symptoms but had a hunch and called a cardiologist at Mac who said to get Owen started on the treatment right away."
Till this day, Owen still does not fully understand the severity of what he went through. But as parents, Shanna said they would never forget it.
Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease
Parents need to be on the alert if their child has a fever for more than five days, with three to four of the following symptoms:
- High fever, usually lasting more than five days
- Rash and/or peeling skin, often between the chest and legs and in the genital or groin area, and later on the fingers and toes
- Swelling and redness in hands and bottoms of feet
- Redness in the eyes
- Enlarged glands, especially in the neck/swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Irritated throat, inner mouth, and lips
- Swollen, bright red “strawberry tongue”
- Joint pain
- Stomach trouble, with diarrhoea and vomiting
Shanna warns parents to err on the side of caution and to keep asking questions. Ask if it might be symptoms of Kawasaki disease. For Owen, his was a case of an incomplete Kawasaki. Despite showing symptoms of Kawasaki disease the whole week, his symptoms would come and go, except for the fever.
In her post, she mentioned that in a lot of other instances, the children seemed to get better for about an hour or two. This is when fever medications kick in and the children are happy and comfortable for a while. However, for Owen, the fever came back each time with a vengeance.
Kawasaki disease is not an easy disease to diagnose. Doctors have to rule out a lot of things before they are able to confirm anything. However, parents who know the symptoms of Kawasaki disease might help early detection, resulting in a better outcome.
For Owen's parents, it will be another month's wait before his next echocardiogram to see if his heart is any better. We sincerely hope with his parents for positive results on his damaged coronary artery.