Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is a very serious condition often caused by food poisoning. The most commonly associated food contamination pathogens with hemolytic uremic syndrome include E. coli O157:H7 and E. coli 026. When an individual contracts E. coli O157:H7 and E. coli 026, hemolytic uremic syndrome is a commonly associated complication.
According to the National Institute of Health, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is, “a disorder that usually occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury.” The National Institute of Health further explains:
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) often occurs after a gastrointestinal infection with E. coli bacteria (Escherichia coli O157:H7). However, the condition has also been linked to other gastrointestinal infections, including shigella and salmonella, as well as non-gastrointestinal infections. HUS is most common in children. It is the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children. Several large outbreaks in 1992 and 1993 were linked to undercooked hamburger meat contaminated with E. coli. Other risk factors for HUS are unknown, although some cases are due to a familial form of the disease. HUS may occur with a variety of other diseases and infections, and after taking certain medications such as Mitomycin C or Ticlopidine.
The symptoms of HUS typically begin with vomiting, fever, and diarrhea (sometimes bloody). Symptoms can become progressively worse, especially in children and the elderly. HUS can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness and jaundice. The treatment of HUS can range from simple medication and treatment to blood transfusions. In some cases, lifelong dialysis is required to account for the kidney damage caused by HUS.
Read More: Causes of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Treatment of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Most cases of E. coli infection result in abdominal cramps and pain and other disorders that can be treatment without long term care or hospitalization. In some severe cases, such E. coli exposure can lead to more serious conditions, such as several days of severe diarrhea and eventually, hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome causes the premature destruction of otherwise healthy red blood cells, which then begin to clog the filtering system in the kidneys. This can eventually cause life-threatening renal failure. While getting appropriate treatment leads to a full recovery for most people, HUS is still a serious condition, and the necessary treatment can be pretty intensive.
The symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, may include a low-grade fever, pale skin, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, excessive fatigue and irritability, small unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, swelling of the face, hands, or even the entire body, or seizures. It is advised that anyone who experiences the above symptoms after several days of diarrhea, or if you or your child doesn’t urinate for 12 hours or more see a doctor immediately.
Treatment for HUS requires hospitalization and intense medical care. Lost fluid and electrolytes need to be carefully replaced. Red blood cell transfusions may be needed to reverse the signs and symptoms of cell loss. To alleviate such symptoms as bleeding or easily bruising, platelet transfusions may be necessary to help your blood clot more normally. In some very difficult cases, it may become necessary for doctors to perform a plasmapheresis, in which a machine is used to clear the blood of its own plasma and replace it with fresh or frozen donor plasma. And in some extreme HUS cases, kidney dialysis may be necessary to filter waste and excess fluid from the blood. In most cases, dialysis is usually a temporary treatment until the kidneys begin functioning adequately again, but if the kidney damage is severe enough, long-term dialysis or possibly even a kidney transplant may be required. All in all, HUS can lead to long periods of time in a hospital, and result in extremely costly medical procedures.
Children and HUS: A Dangerous Risk of Contaminated Food
While adults can contract hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a disease that destroys red blood cells, it is most commonly diagnosed in children and the elderly. In fact, it is the most common cause of sudden, short term acute kidney failure in children. It usually develops when a child is infected by O157:H7, E. coli 026, or other strains of E. coli bacteria, which usually come from ingesting contaminated food, like meat, dairy products, and juice. Although, some children have contracted HUS after swimming in pools or lakes contaminated with feces.
For many children, hemolytic uremic syndrome signs and symptoms may not show up until a week after the digestive problems associated with food poisoning have occurred. A child whom contracts HUS will likely remain pale, tired and irritable, and may experience small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose or mouth as the illness is destroying the platelets along with the red blood cells.
More than half of all children who contract HUS develop acute kidney failure, which causes a serious decrease in the child’s urine output. In some cases, the urine may also appear red, because the red blood cells damaged by HUS have begun to clog the blood vessels in the kidneys, making them work harder to remove wastes and extra fluid from the blood. This condition may cause a buildup of excess fluid and wastes, which may in turn cause high blood pressure or swelling of the face, hands, feet, or entire body. Any child with unexplained bruises, unusual bleeding, swollen limbs or generalized swelling, extreme fatigue, or who hasn’t urinated for 12 hours or more should be taken to a doctor or an emergency room.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome treatments will often include replenishing fluids and may include a transfusion of red blood cells and/or platelets delivered intravenously. In some HUS cases, the child may have to undergo dialysis. A child diagnosed with HUS may also sustain severe kidney damage that slowly develops into permanent kidney failure, which will then require long-term dialysis, or possibly even a kidney transplant. All of these possibility can be traumatic for the child and the rest of the family, and can result in huge medical bills and other expenses.
Contact Us Today About HUS
The Texas Food Poisoning and Contamination Attorney at Hill Law Firm is experienced in handling food poisoning cases and are here to help those afflicted by hemolytic uremic syndrome as a result of eating contaminated food. If you have been diagnosed with a foodborne pathogen that led to hemolytic uremic syndrome, contact the San Antonio, Texas Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Food Poisoning Attorney at Hill Law Firm today to protect your rights.