Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome – Symptoms & Treatment

What is Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome?

Hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS is described as a disease of both the circulatory system and the urinary system. Hemolysis simply means obliteration of the red blood cells. In Hemolytic uremic syndrome, the blood inside the capillaries or small blood vessels starts to clot unusually. When the capillaries are blocked once the red blood cells move across it they will be cut separately and it will lead to their destruction hence the term hemolysis, hemo means blood and lysis means destruction.

Afterwards, the occurrence of hemolysis would result to kidney failure. This happens when the urea and other waste products accumulate inside the blood vessels brought about by the inability of the kidney to filter and dispose all of the waste products in the blood. HUS is also associated with another disease called thrombotic thrombocytic purpura or TTP which also affects the normal clotting process inside the capillaries.

Symptoms & Signs

If Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is E. coli related gastroenteritis, it accompanied with these following symptoms:

  1. Abdominal pain, cramping or discomfort
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. Heavy Diarrhea (watery and bloody)
  4. Dehydration (dryness and lacking of fluids)
  5. Weakness
  6. Lethargy, stupor and tiredness
  7. Electrolyte imbalances (Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride) brought about by heavy diarrhea and also vomiting

Usually the above symptoms would be first to appear and the subsequently the following symptoms may manifest:

  1. Anemia and paleness
  2. Kidney failure and uremia
  3. Weakness
  4. Lethargy
  5. Drowsiness
  6. Purpura (small regions of hemorrhage)
  7. Low platelet levels


Although the origin of Hemolytic uremic syndrome has not been determined with confidence, experts believe that an unusual swelling response is produced in the blood vessels causing platelets to abnormally create clots to block in the capillaries. This consumes up the platelets and brings about a deficiency of them in the remainder of the body. This anomalous response may be brought about by until now an anonymous chemical that is formed in blood plasma, the fluid part of the bloodstream.

The occurrences that initiate for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome are diverse and consist of:

E. Coli

  1. Is a form of bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea
  2. A very ordinary form of bacteria inside the body
  3. Can be obtained in meat and other foods that are not thoroughly cooked
  4. Can cause food poisoning
  5. 90 out of 100 cases of HUS in children in the US is caused by E. Coli


  1. Can also happen during the early postpartum
  2. Can also be associated with the use of birth control pills


  1. HUS is rare complication of Pneumonia
  2. Can be treated with antibiotics


  1. Chemotherapy and immunosuppressant medications
  2. Contraceptive pills
  3. Anti-platelet drugs

Other causes

  1. AIDS
  2. Heredity


Hemolytic uremic syndrome in children has a tendency to be self-limiting, and symptomatic management is usually all that is necessary. This may comprise the following to treat dehydration and electrolyte imbalance:

  1. Intravenous fluids therapy
  2. Electrolyte replacements (sodium and potassium)

For serious cases of anemia, blood transfusion might be needed. When the patient’s hemoglobin drops below six or seven g/dL it is considered a serious case of anemia.

In case of a kidney failure, dialysis is not usually needed and it is often can be treated through meticulous observation and symptomatic management.

However, adults who have hemolytic uremic syndrome have a tendency to become sicker and might require a more forceful management compared to children. In addition to the mentioned management they might need to undergo plasmapheresis or replacement of plasma. In view of the fact that there is something wrong in the plasma that stimulates the production of clots. They find it really helpful when the adult’s plasma is removed and replaced by donor plasma. In cases of adult patients, short-term dialysis may be essential while the kidneys are recuperating from the disease.\


Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome dialysis images

2 thoughts on “Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome – Symptoms & Treatment

  • 16/06/2012 at 10:11 PM

    I’m using birth control pills and I wonder how they can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome. I’m planning to shift contraceptives since I read your blog. I hope my intake of pills may not have caused severe damage to my kidneys.

    • 25/12/2013 at 3:16 PM

      My granddaughter at the age of 7 month she was diagnosed with HUS, living in New Zealand, at that time she had blood transfusion & all the necessary was done. Now living in Queensland/ Australia at the age of 17 & 6 month another attack.
      She was on Contraceptive, she is enduring now on a daily basis, migraines, nausea etc, plasma, dyilisis.We heard of the drug Soliris very costly , we cannot afford it, what can best be done to my granddaughter, it kills me to see her suffering. What help can we get!? Please advise us, thank you


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