E. Coli Infection From Food or Water: Blood and Kidney Problems
Severe problems affecting the blood and kidneys may develop in a small number of people (5% to 10%) infected with Reference E. coli Opens New Window O157:H7 who get sick enough to go to the hospital.Reference 1 These problems include Reference anemia Opens New Window, a low number of Reference platelets Opens New Window in the blood, the formation of small blood clots, and kidney (renal) failure.
Sometimes brain and spinal cord (Reference central nervous system Opens New Window) complications also develop. Serious long-term damage to the kidneys and nervous system, as well as death, can occur.
This set of problems is known as either hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). These two conditions are now thought to be different forms of the same disease.
Symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura may include:
- Pale skin (caused by Reference anemia Opens New Window).
- Weakness or fatigue (caused by anemia).
- Passing only small amounts of urine.
- Small dark patches or dots on the skin (purpura).
- Nervous system
problems. Examples include:
- Tiredness or lack of energy.
- Inability to move one side of the body.
- Long-term nervous system complications. Examples
- Reference Intellectual disability Opens New Window.
- Slowness of movement.
People who have been diagnosed with E. coli infection should be monitored carefully for these problems. This is especially important for children and older adults. They should have blood and urine tests rather than waiting for symptoms to develop. Monitoring should begin as soon as the diagnosis is made and continue for 2 weeks after diarrhea starts.
The following factors may put you at higher-than-average risk of developing blood and kidney problems from E. coli infection:
- Being treated with antibiotics
- Being a very young child or an elderly adult
- Being treated with antidiarrheal medicines
- Having bloody diarrhea
- Having a high Reference white blood cell Opens New Window count
- Having a high fever
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease