Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

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Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) refers to a trio of conditions that work together and lead to an inability of the kidneys to properly filter waste out of your child’s blood. In HUS, red blood cells are abnormally destroyed, and their remnants clog and damage the filtration system of the kidneys. Most children recover without long-lasting damage. In some cases, HUS can lead to permanent kidney damage and even death.


HUS most commonly develops after infection with certain types of E. coli bacteria. HUS may also result from other infections or the use of certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs. In rare cases, HUS occurs as a result of a genetic mutation.

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 and lethargy
  • 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

At UVA, 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