Ask the Experts: What Happens if I Have a Kidney Injury on Vacation?
When blunt force from a car accident, sports injury or fall injures a kidney, the injury will certainly be painful. But it may not be harmful.
Minor kidney injuries can cause blood in urine, pain or abdominal bruising. For these, treatment begins with careful fluid control. Rest can be helpful too. Often, the kidney can heal itself.
If the injury is worse, with a tear or cut in the kidney for example, bleeding can be extreme. Treatment with surgery or embolization may be needed. For embolization, the doctor uses a catheter to block bleeding. If there is a tear, surgery would repair the injury. The kidneys are strong, so it’s very rare that a kidney needs to be removed due to injury.
In some cases, people feel sudden pain in the deep part of their middle to upper back. This type of pain may not be from a clear impact or accident. In these cases, it is of great value to check for kidney stones, a urinary tract infection or some other problem. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting or pain when passing urine.
Even on vacation, if you have symptoms like these, you should get medical attention. The best place to start is with your own doctor. Virtual telehealth visits are easy now and a great place to start. Your doctor can tell you if you should seek urgent or emergency care, or if you can wait. You may also want to check with your insurance company to learn if you need special coverage while traveling.
The good news is most people heal after a kidney injury. The key is to get diagnosed and treated quickly. What you don’t want is to let an injury develop into a lifelong problem.
Dr. Necole Streeper, a urologist at Penn State Health, specializes in kidney stone surgery and prevention.
Read the latest issue of Urology Health extra, the Urology Care Foundations patient-focused magazine.
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