On this page, you will find the following information about hemolytic uremic system (HUS) symptoms:

Phases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Phases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) are similar to those for an E. coli infection, which is often the underlying foodborne illness that has caused the HUS.

Phase one involves gastrointestinal illness with any of the following:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Painful cramps
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy.

Phase two involves severe complications including:

  • Low or no urine output
  • Pale skin and easy bruising
  • Skin rash (fine red spots)
  • Jaundice (yellowing skin)
  • Decreased consciousness and seizures.

E. coli Bacteria
This illustration depicts a three-dimensional (3D) computer-generated image of E. coli. (CDC/ James Archer, Alissa Eckert and Jennifer Oosthuizen)

Symptoms of Second-Phase Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Even after a case of gastrointestinal illness has passed, bacteria can remain in the digestive system and make toxins that enter the bloodstream. If these toxins destroy a significant number of red blood cells, the later stages may begin to manifest in more severe symptoms. Because the bacterial toxins also destroy the bloods platelets, the blood may not clot properly. As a result, small, unexplained bruises or small clot-sized hemorrhages visible in the lining of the mouth may occur.

An impaired supply of blood may also show itself with what appears to be a skin rash of tiny red dots. The skin may also appear pale or yellow as a result of damage to red blood cells. Additionally, blood supply impaired by bacterial toxins may cause neurological symptoms, including a reduced awareness or ability to remain conscious, and, though very rare, seizures.

Because the small arteries of the kidneys are particularly susceptible to damage from the bacterial toxins that cause HUS, kidney damage is a possible effect of the syndrome. If the kidneys are sufficiently damaged, the body’s ability to excrete waste in the form of urine may be severely impaired. Symptoms of the beginning of kidney damage may include an unnaturally small — or nonexistent — urine output.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Complications 

Symptoms of E. coli Infection

Because HUS most often begins with an E. coli infection, it is important to know the symptoms of E. coli food poisoning. If you or a family member has symptoms of E. coli infection, you should remain vigilant for the later signs of HUS described above.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 can range from mild diarrhea to severe abdominal cramps and bloody stools, but you may display no symptoms at all. Indeed, E. coli is a leading cause of bloody diarrhea. These symptoms are more severe in children, the elderly, and in those who have another illness. Infection is more common during the summer, and in the northern U.S. Symptoms start approximately seven days after infection. The first sign is sudden severe abdominal cramping. Watery diarrhea starts a few hours thereafter. Diarrhea causes your body to lose fluids, resulting in dehydration, which can make you feel nauseated and weak. The watery diarrhea lasts for about a day.

The diarrhea will change to bright red, bloody stools because the infection creates sores in your intestines. Bloody diarrhea lasts for two to five days and you might have ten or more bowel movements a day. Your stools may appear to be more blood than stool.

You may have a mild fever. You may also have nausea or vomiting. Consult your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms: watery, bloody diarrhea, cramps, fever, nausea or vomiting.

If you or a loved one has hemolytic uremic syndrome and are part of an E. coli outbreak, our law firm can help. Our hemolytic uremic syndrome lawyers are some of the few in the nation, and we have helped clients get multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts from companies that caused the outbreak by selling contaminated food or by failing to clean up manure containing E. coli bacteria at a petting zoo.

HUS Lawsuit FAQ