Holy exploding bladders, Batman!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Doctors have discovered a symptom of binge drinking that liver cirrhosis and heart problems could never compete with: exploding bladders.

Although rare, Dr. Mohantha Dooldeniya and colleagues at Pindersfield Hospital in Wakefield, Britain diagnosed three separate women, who binge drank, with bladder rupture, though initial diagnoses indicated otherwise.

The report published in the British Medical Journal, explains alcohol increases urine production, but also acts as an anesthetic and masks the urge to go, even if there is an increased amount of urine in the bladder.

The repeated strain on the bladder causes its walls to thin, which makes them more likely to rupture.

The report explains a firm diagnosis for bladder rupture can be difficult without surgical exploration. The problem is the symptoms " lower abdominal pain and lowered urine production " can be attributed to other problems, such as urinary sepsis (a bacterial infection of the blood stream).

The report outlines traditional causes of bladder rupture in women, which include pelvic trauma and diabetes.

As for bladder rupture caused by alcohol abuse, most cases involve men. One such case involved an 18-year-old man who drank heavily and injected methamphetamine.

According to the report, the “shorter length of the urethra and the less pronounced sphincter mechanism [in women], would have a tendency to leak rather than rupture.”

The report advocated, however, “With the increase in alcohol consumption in women today, the complications previously seen only in men should now also be considered.”

Peter Hoaken, a psychology professor, agreed: “Ruptured bladder seems to be a very rare occurrence when compared with other symptoms [of alcohol abuse].”

Alcohol abuse has a wide range of symptoms from head to toe, Hoaken said, including brain damage, dementia, cardiac irregularities and liver problems.

“Alcohol is among the top five drugs in terms of potential severity,” Hoaken said, citing a 2000 study where drugs were rated in terms of their potential danger. Alcohol placed fifth, ahead of LSD, cannabis and ecstasy.

“If you have really disorganized patterns of intoxication ... blackouts, a inability to remember the night before ... that’s highly problematic behaviour,” Hoaken explained.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Susan Eitutis, first-year medical science student, said. “There’s so many side effects to alcohol anyway.”

Other female Western students did not feel the risk of bladder rupture would affect their drinking habits.

“We’re still good to go with drinking,” Stephanie Thibideau, a second-year law student said.

“I don’t believe it would affect my [drinking] habits,” Sara Hickey, a second-year law student, added.

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