Using a Bladder Diary

If you’re experiencing incontinence symptoms, it might be time to break out the diary, the bladder control diary to be specific. Keeping track of your bathroom habits can help you regain control of your bladder by learning your triggers, symptoms, and schedule so you and your doctor can create a customized treatment plan catered to your individual needs.

How Does a Bladder Diary Work?

You begin by downloading our bladder diary for reference. You will need to record your urinary habits for at least four consecutive days in order to detect patterns. Also, be sure to take your diary to your next urology appointment to help determine the type and severity of incontinence you are experiencing.

Your incontinence diary should include:

  • Hours of the day
  • What you drink, how much, and when
  • What you eat, how much, and when
  • When you experience a leak or accident
  • How much urine your pass
  • If you experience any painful symptoms or strong urges to go
  • Your activities

The more details you include the better. This will provide a clear idea of your symptoms to your doctor. For example, if you leak when you sneeze or while lifting something heavy this can indicate stress incontinence. It’s also important to rate how strong your urge to urinate was between one and ten, ten being the strongest.

Your diary can help you understand your continence overall. For example, you may discover that you’re using the restroom a lot more than you thought or avoiding activities due to the fear of leaks or accidents.

Bladder Diary (182.89 kB)

Why should I record what time I go?

Recording what time you use the bathroom during the day can help you determine if your body is on a schedule or not. If you’re going like clockwork then you can plan ahead for bathroom breaks instead of being surprised once the urge strikes.

Why should I record what I eat and drink?

Taking note of what you eat and drink, how much, and when will help you determine if you’re consuming items that trigger your incontinence symptoms or not. For example, a large cup of coffee may increase the amount of pressure on your bladder, causing an intense urge to go. Other possible triggers include caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, fried foods, alcohol, and items high in sugar. By learning your triggers, you’ll be able to tell what foods and drinks need to be avoided before and during important events.

Why should I record the amount of urine I pass?

The amount that you leak or if you fully void your bladder is a key indicator as to what type of incontinence you have. For example, leaking while you laugh, exercise, or sneeze suggests that you may have stress incontinence. However, experiencing sudden pressure to urinate and fully emptying your bladder is more closely related to urge incontinence.

Why should I record any pain?

How intense pain is and where the pain is located provides helpful clues to what type of incontinence you have and if you have something else. Pain or frequent urination can indicate that you have an infection such as a UTI.

Pain and other symptoms can also help your doctor gain insight as to whether or not incontinence medications are easing your symptoms. Be sure to record detailed notes in your bladder diary for about a week or two once you start a new diet or medicine.

Do bladder diaries really work?

Yes, they provide the whole picture to get to the root of what’s causing your incontinence, which allows your doctor to build the best treatment plan possible. When 214 participants were studied, those who recorded their urinary movements for seven consecutive days were able to report stable and reliable measurements of their incontinence issues.


About the Author

Dr. Jay Levy is Medical Director at Aeroflow Urology and a pediatric urologist based in Charlotte, N.C. He is board certified in Urology by the American Board of Urology and also earned the subspecialty certification in Pediatric Urology. Dr. Levy holds a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Texas. He has completed residency programs at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.