Health Watch - Make a Pit Stop!

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

There's a good medical reason to make frequent stops while driving.

Have you ever traveled with someone who hates to pull over for a rest stop because they're making such good time or because they want to go another hundred miles before stopping? Now you have medical evidence for needing to take a break. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say car wrecks are the most common cause of bladder injury in the nation, and a full bladder can cause even more trauma.

When someone with a full bladder and a seatbelt across the abdomen is jolted by the force of a car crash, the bladder could rupture. Dr. Erwin Thal, a UT Southwestern surgeon, says it's like a balloon. A fully inflated balloon is more likely to pop. A nearly empty balloon is a lot harder to break. You can reduce your chances of a bladder rupture in a car accident if you empty your bladder more often. Even though you don't really plan to get into a car wreck when you get in the car, it doesn't hurt to do what you can to reduce your risk. The danger of a full bladder is yet another reason to make a pit stop when you're already feeling uncomfortably full.

Another way to reduce your risk for injury is to wear your seatbelt properly. It should be worn across your hips as a lap belt rather than across your abdomen.

If you've been in an accident, signs of bladder trauma include blood in the urine, difficulty or pain while urinating, a weak urine stream, fever and severe back pain.


July 2004

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