Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a condition that affects the blood and blood vessels. It results in the destruction of blood platelets (cells involved in clotting), a low red blood cell count (anemia) and kidney failure due to damage to the very small blood vessels of the kidneys. Other organs, such as the brain or heart, may also be affected by damage to very small blood vessels.
HUS usually develops in children after five to 10 days of diarrhea — often bloody — caused by infection with certain strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Adults also can develop HUS due to E. coli or other types of infection, certain medications, or pregnancy.
HUS is a serious condition. But timely and appropriate treatment leads to a full recovery for most people, especially young children.
The most common cause of HUS — particularly in children under the age of 5 — is infection with E. coli bacteria that produce certain toxins (shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC).
E. coli can be found in:
Other causes can include:
It can include:
In HUS the tiny filter units in the kidneys known as glomeruli become clogged with platelets and damaged red blood cells. This leads to problems with the kidney's ability to filter and eliminate waste products.
See your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences bloody diarrhea or several days of diarrhea followed by:
Seek emergency care if you or your child doesn't urinate for 12 hours or more.
When HUS causes mild kidney failure, close attention to the patient, especially to fluid volume, may be all that is necessary for adequate treatment. When it causes severe kidney failure (when kidney function is less than 10 percent of normal), dialysis may be needed to do the work of the kidneys. Different forms of dialysis may be used depending on each individual's needs. Most HUS patients that require dialysis ultimately recover their kidney function.
To confirm a diagnosis of HUS, your doctor is likely to recommend lab tests, including Blood tests, urine analysis and a stool analysis (to detect toxin producing E-coli and other bacteria that can cause HUS).
Disclaimer: The UCLA Health System cannot guarantee the accuracy of such information. The information is provided without warranty or guarantee of any kind. Please speak to your Physician before making any changes.