Skip to Content

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome


  • Hemolytic (he-mo-LIT-ik) uremic (u-RE-mik) syndrome (SIN-drome), or HUS, is a condition that affects the blood, small blood vessels, and kidneys. An injury to a blood vessel wall normally triggers platelets (blood clotting cells) to start clotting, which stops bleeding. With HUS, there is an uncontrolled clumping of platelets in the injured blood vessel. This decreases the amount of freely moving platelets in the blood and causes narrowing of the blood vessel. Red blood cells going through these narrowed blood vessels are often hemolysed (destroyed). Anemia (decreased red blood cells) and ischemia (decreased blood supply) may then occur. The small blood vessels of the kidneys are most often affected and cause kidney failure.
  • Harmful toxins that injure the blood vessel walls may start the series of events leading to HUS. These toxins often come from bacteria (germs) in food. Many other things may also cause HUS, such as cancer, pregnancy, HIV infection, and anti-rejection drugs used after organ transplant. Blood, urine, and a kidney biopsy are needed to diagnose HUS. Treatment includes intravenous (IV) fluid replacement and plasma exchange. In severe cases of HUS, hemodialysis and a kidney transplant may be needed. Diagnosing and treating HUS as soon as possible is important to prevent further problems, such as renal failure. With treatment, such as medicine and plasma exchange, your symptoms may be relieved and your quality of life may be improved.


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


Changing what you eat and drink may be hard at first. You may need to make these changes part of your daily routine. Keep a list in your kitchen of foods that are allowed on your diet. Use special cookbooks to find new recipes. You may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements, such as calcium. Follow your caregiver's advice about drinking liquids. You may need to write down how much liquid you drink and how much you urinate. Ask your caregivers any questions you may have about your diet.

  • Protein: You will need to limit the amount of protein in your diet. This will help decrease the waste in your blood, which may help your kidneys to work better. Foods high in protein are meat, poultry (chicken), fish, eggs, and dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt). Your caregiver will tell you how much protein to eat each day.
  • Phosphorus: You will also need to limit the amount of phosphorus in your diet. With kidney failure, your kidneys cannot get rid of the extra phosphorus that builds up in your blood. Extra phosphorous in your blood may cause calcium to leave your bones and make them weak. Foods that are high in phosphorus are dairy products, beans, peas, and nuts. Phosphorous is also found in liquids, such as cocoa, beer, and cola drinks. Your caregiver will tell you how much phosphorus you should have in your diet each day.
  • Sodium: You may have to limit the amount of sodium (salt) in your diet. Caregivers will tell you how much sodium you should have each day. Table salt, canned foods, processed meats like sandwich meats and sausage, canned soups, and salted snacks are high in sodium.
  • Potassium: If you have too much potassium in your blood, you may need to limit foods containing potassium. Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables.

Preventing food-borne diseases:

  • Wash your hands often. Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands with soap and water:
    • Before and after handling food.
    • After using the bathroom.
    • After changing a diaper.
    • After tending to a sick person.
    • After blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • After handling pets.
  • Clean surfaces and utensils used to prepare food. Clean surfaces before and after preparing food. Wash cutting boards and utensils after each use and before preparing the next food.
  • Cook food thoroughly at the right temperature. Food is safely cooked when it reaches a temperature high enough to kill bacteria. Ask caregivers for more information on cooking food safely.
  • Refrigerate food as soon as possible. Do not forget to store left over food promptly.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have bleeding from your gums, lips, or nose.
  • You have dark-colored stools or blood in your stools.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have questions about hemolytic uremic syndrome and its treatments.


  • You are urinating less than usual or not at all.
  • You have diarrhea and vomiting (throwing up).
  • You have severe abdominal (stomach) pain.
  • You have a severe headache, trouble thinking, and are confused.
  • You have trouble seeing.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes