HUS is a condition that damages the blood vessels in the kidneys. This may lead to blood clots and, in severe cases, kidney failure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.
Children have the
This article explains HUS, including its symptoms, causes, treatment, and outlook.
HUS is most common in children and is often the result of an E. coli infection. It is serious and needs appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Most people, especially children, fully recover from this condition.
Doctors classify HUS into
Typical HUS occurs in
Experts refer to the other 10% of cases as atypical HUS. These cases encompass several diseases with similar features. Atypical HUS has various causes, including other types of bacteria, medications, and immune processes.
The symptoms of HUS may vary depending on its cause. In most cases, the cause is an E. coli infection, which affects the digestive tract.
When HUS causes severe kidney injury, an individual may experience:
E. coli infections
This toxin may enter a person’s bloodstream and cause damage to their blood vessels. This can lead to the development of HUS. However, most people with an E. coli infection do not develop HUS.
Other possible causes of HUS include:
Without treatment, HUS may cause kidney failure. It can damage the small vessels inside the kidneys.
This damage may also cause inflammation and, eventually, a blood clot that can clog the filtering system of the kidney. This may lead to kidney failure, a potentially life threatening medical emergency.
In certain cases, a person with HUS
- eating food, such as meat, that carries E. coli bacteria
- having close contact with a person with E. coli
- swimming in lakes or pools contaminated with feces
Other possible causes of HUS include:
- reactions to certain drugs
- organ transplantation
- complications during pregnancy
- very high blood pressure
The risk of developing HUS
- people with a weakened immune system
- older adults
- children aged 5 years and younger
- people with certain genetic mutations
Healthcare professionals will perform a series of tests and a physical exam before confirming a diagnosis of HUS. The tests
- urine test
- stool sample test
- blood test
If the causes of HUS are unclear, healthcare professionals may conduct additional tests to help them find the condition’s origin.
The treatment for HUS depends on the condition’s severity and causes. Treatment for HUS may involve:
- blood transfusion
- plasma exchange
- dialysis, which is usually only a temporary treatment
- medication to lower high blood pressure
If a person experiences bloody diarrhea or any other symptoms of HUS, they should contact a doctor as soon as possible.
People should seek emergency care immediately if they also experience symptoms
- extreme fatigue
- unusual bleeding
- unexplained bruises
- decreased urine output or the absence of urination for more than 12 hours
The rate of long-term complications from HUS is low, and
People who require dialysis have a high risk of long-term chronic kidney disease.
Rarely, HUS can lead to serious complications such as:
To prevent E. coli infection, a person
- washing hands well before eating and after using the restroom
- cooking meat to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C)
- frequently cleaning utensils and surfaces they use to prepare food
- avoiding unpasteurized juice, cider, and milk
- defrosting meat in a microwave or refrigerator instead of on the kitchen counter
- keeping raw and cooked meat separate to avoid contamination
- storing meat in the bottom part of the refrigerator to prevent its liquid from dripping onto other foods
- avoiding swimming in water that may contain E. coli bacteria
The outlook for HUS
Around 85% of people can regain full kidney function without any damage.
In rare cases, HUS may damage a person’s kidneys significantly, and around 5% of people die as a result of HUS.
Long-term kidney complications occur in 5–25% of children with HUS.
HUS is a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure, and it needs immediate medical treatment. The most frequent cause of HUS is an E. coli bacterial infection. Other possible causes include cancer, pregnancy, autoimmune diseases, and genetic mutations. HUS is most common in children, but adults may experience it as well.
To prevent E. coli infections, people should always cook meat well, store raw and cooked foods separately, and wash their hands before and after touching food to avoid any possible contamination.
The outlook for HUS is generally good, with about 85% of people fully recovering from the condition without kidney damage. However, in some cases, a person may develop severe kidney damage, which may need further treatment such as dialysis or a transplant.