Annika Naramreddy is youth team member and communications intern for Kawasaki Disease Foundation. Annika explains what Kawasaki Disease is and how it has effected her from a young age. Annika tells us how she is empowering young people in the KDF community and raising awareness.
What is Kawasaki Disease?
I was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease (KD) when I was 5 years old, most would think that’s early for a heart disease but in fact the age group for KD is children under 5 years of age. KD is an acute febrile illness characterised by the inflammation of medium-sized blood vessels, and mainly affecting the coronary arteries supplying the heart.
To put it simply, the blood vessels, specifically medium-sized blood vessels and the coronary arteries, become inflamed due to causes unknown to scientists, which could result in numerous coronary artery complications if not treated in a timely manner.
Although KD is not common, scientists have been observing a trend of increase in the number of KD cases annually throughout the world, and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic with scientists seeing an increase in the number of KD cases in the COVID-19 hotspots of the world.
KD is commonly treated with gamma globulins to lower the risk of coronary artery problems and aspirin to treat inflammation, decrease pain and joint inflammation, as well as reduce fever. Although the treatment for KD has been recognised, the cause for the disease is still unknown to scientists with a variety of factors, including viruses, environmental factors, and genetics, being suspected as potential causes of KD. With no known cause of KD, early diagnosis of KD is of utmost importance to allow identification of the disease. Diagnosis of KD during phase I or the first ten days from the onset of fever is essential to the appropriate treatment of the disease to prevent long-term side effects that could arise from the disease.
To this end, I have joined the KDFYouth project, an initiative by Kawasaki Disease Foundation to increase awareness about KD and its symptoms among teenagers.
Growing up without any complications from KD, I didn’t realise how fortunate I am to be able to walk away from the disease but while researching whether children with KD are at higher risk with COVID-19, I came across an article about the rise in KD cases in COVID-19 hotspots that made me realise how important early diagnosis is and how lucky I got with KD. This led me to join KDFYouth as a Communications Intern and Youth Team Member.
KDFYouth is a means to increase awareness about KD among children and teenagers through social media. So far, KDFYouth makes use of Instagram, TikTok and Youtube to reach youth in spreading awareness about KD.
I was lucky enough to be diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease early enough to prevent any long term complications due to the disease, however, there are others who are not as fortunate due to the lack of awareness regarding the disease.
Hence, we at KDFYouth believe it is of utmost importance to increase awareness regarding the disease among youth, the future generation, in order to create a generation of adults aware of KD and active in combatting the disease and protecting children's hearts.
Because I have emphasised so much on the need for awareness, I would like to conclude with some information I believe is essential to know regarding KD.
The symptoms of KD are commonly associated with the acronym “CRASH & BURN” referring to : c(conjunctivitis), r(rash), a(adenopathy), s(strawberry tongue), h(hands and feet-swelling and redness), and burn(high, unrelenting fever).
If you see a combination of these symptoms, make sure to ask your doctor or primary care physician if this could be KD. Early diagnosis of KD, diagnosis of KD within ten days from the onset of fever, most likely results in recovery without any side effects so make sure to visit a doctor early if you see a combination of these symptoms. Lastly, the risk of KD is especially higher if you live in a COVID-19 hotspot so make sure you are alert of these symptoms. Make sure to care for your precious heart!
If you would like to get in touch with the KDF Youth please use the handles below:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/kdfyouth/
TikTok – KDFYouth
Youtube – TheKDFoundation
Kawasaki Disease Foundation Website - https://kdfoundation.org/