Back-to-School Physicals

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No matter what grade your child is about to enter, annual physicals are probably on top of your back-to-school list. But what happens if your child tests positive for blood in his or her urine?

Most of the time its not a problem, but occasionally it is. Deogracias Pea, MD, pediatric nephrology at AdventHealth, explains when an appointment with a specialist may be needed.

Why does Blood sometimes Appear?

Urine is one way our bodies get rid of waste products. The process starts in our kidneys, where excess fluids and waste are removed from our blood and turned into urine. The urine then flows through tubes (ureters) into the bladder, where its stored until we need to relieve ourselves. If blood cells leak into the urine at any part of the process, it causes hematuria (the medical term for blood in urine).

According to the National Kidney Foundation, hematuria is a relatively common finding in kids and usually not a cause for concern. In some cases, it may not be blood at all; you could see a reddish hue from something your child has eaten or swallowed. Foods and medications such as beets, blackberries, red food coloring and even some laxatives can cause urine to turn red to orange.

Most of the time, blood in the urine causes no pain and if its visible to the naked eye, its not much.

But usually, its only detected under a laboratory microscope or by using a special urine dipstick, a plastic stick with small squares covered with different chemical signals that measure blood, protein, sugar, ketones and products from bacterial infection.

Why Perform Urine Tests?

Checking the urine for blood can give early indicators of renal disease, or other more serious diseases affecting major organs in the body, says Dr. Pea. Also, the test can reveal potentially harmful combinations of proteins and blood in the urine or elevated glucose levels, an early indicator of diabetes.

Early intervention is key to preserving kidney function and possibly staving off future complications, he explains.

Dr. Pea says children involved in school athletics get more routine physicals than other children, but in general, parents should have urine tests performed every one to two years as part of regular physical examinations.

Should a potentially serious problem arise, Dr. Pea and his team are fully prepared to diagnose and treat kidney abnormalities.

Check out the checklist our pediatric specialists have put together for your back-to-school preparations.

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