We keep a diary for many different reasons: to record significant events, to vent our frustrations or to simply have a creative outlet. But research from the University of Alabama suggests keeping a diary of your bladder function can help with the diagnosis and treatment of urinary incontinence.
It can also be useful for other urinary tract infections where there is a link between the type of fluid you drink and the severity of the illness.
Keeping track of your bathroom habits may seem a little strange at first, but experts agree it’s a good way to identify patterns and identify the underlying causes of incontinence.
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What is a bladder diary?
“It’s basically a record of when and how much a person voids his or her bladder,” says Dr Kobus van Rensburg, a senior specialist at the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Stellenbosch University.
“A person would also keep record of when and how much fluid he or she drinks,” Van Rensburg told Health24.
Dr Pieter Kruger, an urogynaecologist from the University of Cape Town, agrees with Van Rensburg. “Bladder diaries can also identify the maximum time interval that the person can reasonably wait between voids, a measure used to guide bladder training and also assess the impact on the patient’s quality of life.”
Read: 6 everyday things to avoid if you have urge incontinence
How does it work?
A doctor would usually require a patient to keep diary of their bladder function for about 48 to 72 hours. The type of drink, the amount of fluid, the trips to the bathroom and a record of accidental leakage are all recorded on this chart.
Kruger acknowledges that there are challenges associated with this, but in general compliance is not an issue among patients. “It’s very useful in practice, but it can be a challenge when a patient has to measure the urine and the amount they are drinking.”
A useful tool
Normal voiding frequency is less than 8 times a day and less than 2 times at night, with a total volume fluid intake of less than 1800 ml per 24 hours. A bladder diary will identify if you fall outside this range.
“While [recording the] frequency and volume are not that helpful in determining the cause of incontinence, they may be helpful to determine if urinary incontinence is associated with high fluid intake. In addition, they provide a measure of the severity of the problem that can be followed over time,” says Van Rensburg.
Click here to download your own bladder diary.
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