Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

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Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) refers to a trio of conditions that prevent your child's kidneys from filtering waste out of their blood. In HUS, red blood cells are abnormally destroyed. The remnants of those blood cells clog and damage the kidneys' filtration system. Most children recover without long-lasting damage. In some cases, HUS leads to permanent kidney damage. Very rarely, HUS can cause death. 

What Causes HUS?

HUS most commonly develops after infection with certain types of E. coli bacteria. But there are other possible causes. These include:

  • Infections
  • Medications (like chemotherapy drugs)
  • Genetic mutations (rarely)

E. coli infections cause diarrhea, and only rarely lead to HUS. Normally, E. coli infections stay in the intestines. But if they cross into the blood stream then it can cause further complications. Including HUS. 

Symptoms of HUS

Although symptoms vary, the most common symptoms your child may exhibit include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Your child may also experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Bruising in the mouth
  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure
  • Pale skin
  • Swelling in the face, feet, ankles or other parts of the body (resulting from fluid buildup)

Diagnosis and Treatment at UVA Health Children's

At UVA Health Children's, your child’s doctor may perform or recommend: 

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests
  • Kidney biopsy 

Treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms and may include:

  • Intravenous (IV) hydration
  • Blood transfusion
  • Nutrition control to treat digestive problems
  • Dialysis
  • Medication to control blood pressure