An unusual disease in which red blood cells are killed prematurely and the kidneys are damaged, leading to acute kidney failure. Thrombocytopenia (reduction of platelets in the blood) can also arise. Haemolytic-uraemic syndrome usually affects young children.
The exact cause of haemolytic-uraemic syndrome is unknown, however, the disorder can be triggered by a serious viral or bacterial infection. It is believed that the lining of the small blood vessels in the kidneys becomes damaged, causing small clots to form. These clots then create haemolysis (breakdown of red cells) as blood flows past them.
The commencement of the disease is unexpected; symptoms include lethargy, weakness, and a reduction in the volume of urine. Extreme hypertension (high blood pressure) is frequently seen and can bring on seizures.
Diagnosis and treatment
Urine and blood tests can identify the degree of kidney damage. Dialysis (artificial filtration of the blood) can be necessary until the kidneys have recovered. Most people recover normal renal function.