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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 09:54 GMT
Women drinkers are fit to burst
Image of girls drinking in a bar
Experts warn more and more women are taking up drinking
Women who binge drink may be damaging more than their liver, experts warn.

A report in the British Medical Journal said women are turning up in hospital after a night on the tiles suffering from burst bladders.

The problem has previously only been reported in men who drink excessive amounts of alcohol said surgeons at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

When drunk, people may not realise they have an overly full bladder, which can then rupture, they explained.

The NHS spends up to 3bn a year on alcohol-related problems, with over 28,000 hospital admissions caused by alcohol dependence or poisoning and 22,000 premature deaths each year.

In women, the feeling was because they have a short urethra they are more likely to leak than rupture
Mr Mohantha Dooldeniya

Women have recently caught up with men in their alcohol consumption, with 86% admitting they drink regularly compared with 91% of men.

Figures also show the proportion of young girls drinking has reached the level of young boys.

Surgery

Mr Mohantha Dooldeniya, a surgeon at Pinderfields Hospital, said he had seen three women in the space of 12 months who had suffered from a burst bladder and needed surgery to repair the rupture.

The doctors did not recognise straightaway what the problem was, because they did not expect to see it in women.

Two of the patients were treated for urine infection with antibiotics.

And the third was suspected to have appendicitis.

Mr Dooldeniya said physicians needed to be aware that women presenting with lower abdominal pain may be suffering from bladder rupture.

In all the cases he had seen, binge drinking had led to an increased volume of urine but the numbing effect of the alcohol meant the women did not realise they needed the toilet.

"The reason this was first described in men is they have a longer urethra so you need a lot more pressure to get urine out of the bladder.

"In women, the feeling was because they have a short urethra they are more likely to leak than rupture," he said.

A minor trauma, such as a fall, can increase the risk the bladder will burst, he added.

"All the women had come in the morning after they had drunk a significant amount of alcohol and were all very vague about what they had been up to."

A spokesperson for Alcohol Concern said: "Though it is difficult to assess the prevalence of alcohol-related ruptures, these case studies yet again remind us that for women, as well as men, the impact of alcohol misuse on health can extend beyond well known conditions like cirrhosis of the liver.

"The government's recommended daily limits remain the best protection we have against alcohol-related harm."

Professor Christopher Chapple, an expert in urology at the University of Sheffield said rupture of the bladder is a well-recognised complication of excessive alcohol drinking.

He added: "Because of the associated alcohol consumption they may not be aware that they have actually injured themselves until some time later."



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