Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Signs, Causes, Treatment

Most kidney diseases happen when there is damage to the organ itself, but there are also cases wherein certain bacteria can cause disease to the organ – like hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS.

3d illustration of human kidney

Kidney diseases that lead to the organ’s failure are one of the leading causes of death in the world. According to research, more than 2 million people who suffer from kidney diseases experience premature death every year, most of them because of the unavailability of treatment.

Kidney diseases have various kinds, each of them different from one another.

A Very Important Organ: The Kidneys

The kidneys are a vital organ of the body. Their routine work is very essential and important to the human body.

The kidneys are easily distinguished because of their bean-shaped appearance. They are a part of the renal system, also called the urinary system. The renal system is responsible for the excretion of body wastes and many other important functions.

The role of the kidneys in the renal system is mostly by converting body wastes into the urine. They are also the major player in filtering the blood that flows in our body before it goes back to the heart.

Also, the kidneys take part in performing the following functions:

  • Kidneys act and help maintain the balance of the overall bodily fluids.
  • Aid in the regulation and filtering of minerals from the blood.
  • Their main purpose is to filter the toxic substances from the body, also those that are from the food we eat and the medications we consume.
  • They contribute to the creation of hormones that assists in producing red blood cells, improving the health of the bones, and regulating of blood pressure.

In the case of kidney failure, the organ does not properly function; or worst-case scenario, the kidneys are possible to completely shut down. These kidney failures often lead to a person’s death.

There is one case of kidney disease wherein the common patients are young children, also it is caused by a bacterial infection. This is called hemolytic-uremic syndrome or HUS.

What is Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)

The hemolytic uremic syndrome, or also called as HUS, is a kidney condition that is caused by the unusual break down of red blood cells. Those red blood cells then cause a hindrance in the filtering system of the kidneys and have the possibility of leading to life-threatening kidney failure.

Children below 5 years of age are the most at risk of developing HUS. It is usually associated with five to ten days of bloody diarrhea. HUS is the effect of a bacterial infection, which means even some adults are also possible to get this disease.

Having HUS should be taken seriously. Everyone should be aware of how dangerous conditions related to the kidney are. It’s a relief that there are available treatments for HUS and that they seem to really help in the full recovery of patients.

Signs of Having Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Somehow, symptoms of having HUS is not that hard to determine. Here are some signs to check if a person may be affected by HUS:

  • Diarrhea with blood discharge
  • Issues while urinating, and also possible blood discharge together with the urine.
  • Pain in the abdomen; with vomiting and frequent fever
  • Paleness
  • Develops small bruises from unknown sources
  • Nose bleed and also the mouth may bleed
  • Extreme fatigue and gets easily irritated.
  • Seizures.
  • High blood pressure
  • There may also be a series of swelling on the face, hands, feet, or sometimes the entire body

At the first sign of any bloody discharge, immediately seek professional help. This will help avoid any further complications; and in the case of HUS positivity, treatment will be given as soon as possible.

Causes of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

The main cause of HUS is through the bacteria called Eschericia coli or most known for its abbreviation E. coli.

The E. coli bacteria usually target children under 5 years old, wherein they cause an infection in the body and then they produce toxins that further harm the body.

E. coli is a set of bacteria that are mainly based in the intestines of healthy humans and animals. Most of them are known to be harmless in the body. But there are instances in which a few of the E. coli strains can cause bad effects; just like the strain named E. coli O157: H7. Strains like these are some of the main causes of most foodborne infections.

Most disease-causing E. coli bacteria are present in meat or other products that are contaminated and also in bodies of water like swimming pools and lakes that have been contaminated with excretion; specifically feces.

There is also a chance that E. coli can be transferred through close contact with an infected person.

Also, not everyone who gets E. coli infection is affected by the hemolytic uremic syndrome. It still depends on how the body can react to the bacteria.

However, there are other possible causes of HUS which do not include E. coli infection.

First, certain types of medication can cause HUS; medications like quinine sulfate with brand name Qualaquin (for treatment of malaria), those with immunosuppressant cyclosporine like brand names Neoral, Sandimmune, and Gengraf (for prevention of organ rejection after receiving organ transplant), a number of medication for chemotherapy, and antiplatelet drugs.

Second, other infections such as HIV/AIDS or those caused by pneumococcus bacteria.

Third, although rare, there are chances where pregnancy may cause HUS.

Treatment of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

The treatment of HUS is required to be done at the hospital. There are different approaches depending on the complications of the HUS.

The following treatments for HUS are:

Fluid Replacement

The inability of the kidneys to function properly makes them unfit to do activities like the removal of fluids and body wastes. The fluid replacement is then done manually to properly replace the lost fluid and electrolytes in the body.

Red Blood Cell Transfusion

Because of the damaged red blood cells caused by HUS, the body experiences symptoms like chills, fatigue, difficulty in breathing, fast heart rate, yellow skin, and dark-colored urine. Therefore, red blood cell transfusion is done through the use of an intravenous needle.

Platelet Transfusion

The platelet is transfused through an intravenous needle. This treatment procedure is for the normalization of a blood clot in order to relieve the symptoms regarding blood and bruises.

Kidney Dialysis

Kidney dialysis is a common treatment for people suffering from kidney diseases. It is most effective for the cases of kidney failure because a dialysis machine is used to filter the blood of the patient since the kidneys are slowly functioning, or sometimes they do not entirely function anymore. Thus, kidney dialysis is an essential treatment.

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