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Hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, is a kidney condition that happens when red blood cells are destroyed and block the kidneys’ filtering system. The damaged red blood cells clog the filtering system in the kidneys, which can lead to life-threatening kidney failure. If the kidneys stop functioning, a child can develop acute kidney injury. The sudden and temporary loss of kidney function. Hemolytic uremic syndrome is the most common cause of acute kidney injury in children. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin—an iron-rich protein that gives blood its red color and carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.

HUS usually develops in children after five to 10 days of diarrhoea — 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.

Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of HUS can include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Decreased urination or blood in the urine
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting and occasionally fever
  • Pallor
  • Small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Confusion or seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling of the face, hands, feet or entire body

Symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome in children:
A child with hemolytic uremic syndrome may develop signs and symptoms similar to those seen with gastroenteritis—an inflammation of the lining of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine such as,

  • vomiting
  • bloody diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • fever and chills
  • headache

Risk factors
The risk of developing HUS is highest for:

  • Children under 5 years of age
  • People over 75
  • People with certain genetic changes that make them more susceptible

Complications
HUS can cause life-threatening complications, including:

  • Kidney failure, which can be sudden (acute) or develop over time (chronic)
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Intestinal problems, such as inflammatory colitis
  • Heart problems

Diagnosis
A health care provider diagnoses hemolytic uremic syndrome with

  • a medical and family history
  • a physical exam
  • urine tests
  • a blood test
  • a stool test
  • kidney biopsy
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