Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome


Am Fam Physician. 2006 Sep 15;74(6):998.

  See related article on hemolytic uremic syndrome.

What is hemolytic uremic syndrome?

Hemolytic uremic (say: HEE-moh-LIT-ick you-REE-mick) syndrome, also called HUS, is a disease of the kidneys, blood, and gastrointestinal system. It is rare in the United States.

Who gets HUS?

Anyone can get HUS, but children are three times more likely to get it than adults are.

How do people get HUS?

A kind of bacteria seems to be the main cause of HUS. Milk and apple juice that have not been pasteurized (a heating process to kill germs) and undercooked meat can have this bacteria. Eating and drinking these foods can give you HUS. You can also get it from drinking water that is not cleaned with chlorine (as in contaminated lakes).

What are the symptoms of HUS?

Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever, stomachache, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Remember, these don’t always mean you have HUS. Talk with your doctor to find out for sure.

How can my doctor tell if I have HUS?

After talking with you, your doctor may order blood, stool, or urine tests to see if you have HUS.

How is HUS treated?

Most of the time, HUS goes away by itself. However, people with HUS should eat well-cooked food, drink lots of fluids, and continue to check in with their doctor. People with serious cases of HUS might need to go to a hospital, and might need extra blood or a blood treatment.

How can I prevent HUS?

Eat meat only if it’s fully cooked and drink milk and juices only if they are pasteurized. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water. Drink only clean water. Do not swim in dirty lakes or rivers. Wash your hands well after using the bathroom or petting farm animals.

Where can I learn more about HUS?

Your doctor

National Kidney Foundation

30 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016

Telephone: 1-800-622-9010

Web site:

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases

Information Clearinghouse

3 Information Way, Bethesda, MD 20892-3580

Telephone: 1-800-891-5390

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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