To reduce the risk of complications, your child's doctor will want to begin treatment for Kawasaki disease as soon as possible, preferably while your child still has a fever. The goals of initial treatment are to lower fever and inflammation and prevent heart damage.
Treatment for Kawasaki disease may include:
- Gamma globulin. Infusion of an immune protein (gamma globulin) through a vein (intravenously) can lower the risk of coronary artery problems.
Aspirin. High doses of aspirin may help treat inflammation. Aspirin can also decrease pain and joint inflammation, as well as reduce the fever.
Kawasaki treatment is a rare exception to the rule that says aspirin shouldn't be given to children. Aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in children recovering from chickenpox or flu. Children should be given aspirin only under the supervision of a doctor.
Because of the risk of serious complications, initial treatment for Kawasaki disease usually is given in a hospital.
After the initial treatment
Once the fever goes down, your child may need to take low-dose aspirin for at least six weeks and longer if he or she develops a coronary artery aneurysm. Aspirin helps prevent clotting.
However, if your child develops flu or chickenpox during treatment, he or she may need to stop taking aspirin. Taking aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition that can affect the blood, liver and brain of children and teenagers after a viral infection.
With treatment, your child may start to improve soon after the first gamma globulin treatment. Without treatment, Kawasaki disease lasts an average of 12 days. However, heart complications may be longer lasting.
Monitoring heart problems
If your child has any signs of heart problems, the doctor may recommend follow-up tests to check your child's heart health at regular intervals, often at six to eight weeks after the illness began, and then again after six months.
If heart problems continue, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating heart disease in children (pediatric cardiologist). Treatment for heart complications related to Kawasaki disease depends on what type of heart condition is present. If a coronary artery aneurysm ruptures, treatment may include anticoagulant drugs, stent placement, or bypass surgery.
Wait to vaccinate
If your child was given gamma globulin, it's a good idea to wait at least 11 months to get the chickenpox or measles vaccine, because gamma globulin can affect how well these vaccinations work.