Diagnosis

To confirm a diagnosis of HUS, your doctor is likely to recommend lab tests, including:

  • Blood tests. These tests can determine if your red blood cells are damaged. Blood tests can also reveal a low platelet count, low red blood cell count or a higher than normal level of creatinine, a waste product normally removed by your kidneys.
  • Urine test. This test can detect abnormal levels of protein, blood and signs of infection in your urine.
  • Stool sample. This test might detect toxin-producing E. coli and other bacteria that can cause HUS.

Treatment

HUS requires treatment in the hospital. To ease signs and symptoms and to prevent further problems, treatment might include:

  • Fluid replacement. Lost fluid and electrolytes must be carefully replaced because the kidneys aren't removing fluids and waste as efficiently as normal.
  • Red blood cell transfusions. Red blood cells, transfused through an intravenous (IV) needle, can help reverse signs and symptoms of HUS including chills, fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, yellow skin and dark urine.
  • Platelet transfusions. IV transfusions of platelets can help your blood clot more normally if you're bleeding or bruising easily.
  • Plasma exchange. Plasma is the part of blood that supports the circulation of blood cells and platelets. Sometimes a machine is used to clear the blood of its own plasma and replace it with fresh or frozen donor plasma.
  • Kidney dialysis. Sometimes dialysis is needed to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood. Dialysis is usually a temporary treatment until the kidneys begin functioning adequately again. But if you have significant kidney damage, you might need long-term dialysis.

Appropriate treatment leads to a full recovery for most people with HUS, especially young children.

If you have lasting kidney damage from HUS, your doctor might recommend a medication to lower your blood pressure, to prevent or delay further kidney damage. Your doctor might also recommend follow-up visits to evaluate your kidney function every year for five years.

Atypical HUS

This uncommon type of HUS is generally treated with plasma exchange. Your doctor might also recommend a medication — eculizumab (Soliris) — that can prevent the continued destruction of healthy cells. To prevent serious infection, you or your child might have a meningococcal vaccine before receiving this medication.

Preparing for your appointment

If you or your child is experiencing symptoms of HUS after several days of diarrhea, call your doctor immediately and be prepared to answer these questions:

  • Have you noticed blood in the diarrhea?
  • Have you or your child had fever, swelling or decreased urine output?
  • How long have you or your child been experiencing these symptoms?
  • How long has it been since you or your child urinated?

What you can do in the meantime

If you or your child has an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea, it's a good idea to try to replace the fluids that have been lost with an oral rehydrating solution, such as CeraLyte70, Pedialyte or Oralyte.