Why Keep a Bladder Diary?
Uh oh, you have the urge to pee again. How annoying, right? You are not alone. Millions of people in America suffer from overactive bladder symptoms at some point or another in their life. It is true that a lot of men over 50 with enlarged prostates experience increased urination frequency and women are notorious for having an overactive bladder. It seems that all the advertising and marketing on television targets either the 50+ year old man with an enlarged prostate, or the middle-aged women with an overactive bladder. But what about the otherwise healthy 30-year-old man without pre-existing health conditions who is getting up 5x a night to pee, just a little bit? Or how about the 25-year-old graduate student, stressed to the max, who needs to excuse herself in a packed lecture classroom to urinate?
Assuming you have had a full medical exam to rule out underlying conditions causing increased urinary frequency, it is time to study your habitual patterns. And not just when and how much you pee in a simple bladder diary, but the habitual patterns that have led to your psychological need to urinate so often. Could it really be all in your head?
There is no denying that specific food types can irritate your bladder, causing increased frequency. There is also no denying that many foods act as a natural diuretic, signaling your body to dump as much fluid as possible. When this occurs, you will be running to the bathroom more often – especially with naturally occurring diuretics like caffeine. Other foods that can irritate your bladder include:
- Acidic Fruits – grapefruits, lemons, and oranges
- Spicy Foods
- Tomato-based products
- Carbonated drinks
- And even Chocolate
Cutting back on these foods can have a dramatic impact on urinary frequency. Journaling your food intake and documenting your bathrooms trips can help pinpoint cause-and-affect relationships. Beyond cause-and-effect associated with food intake, there are also habitual patterns associated with increased urinary frequency that you can explore in a bladder diary. Let us explain.
Have you ever peed yourself in public? Or maybe you had too many beers at a friend’s party, stayed the night, and peed yourself on their couch unknowingly in the middle of the night? Downright embarrassing. Most people have not experienced this level of embarrassment, but for the few people that have – it can lead to a lifetime of “preventative” urination to avoid it from happening again.
Here are a few healthy examples of preventative urination:
- Peeing before you get into the car for a 2-hour drive over to grandma’s house. This is a healthy habit that prevents you from having to stop for a bathroom break. Most normal people have developed this type of “preventative” habit, which is healthy and smart.
- Peeing before a 2+ hour movie at the Cinema. Also, another healthy idea to avoid disturbing other movie-goers as you scoot your way through the aisles to use the bathroom.
On the other end of the spectrum, here are examples of unhealthy preventative urination patterns that can develop over the course of one’s lifetime:
- Training yourself to pee every 2 to 3 hours at night to avoid bed wetting. Alcoholics are notorious for drinking until they pass out. Often, they consume such a large quantity of alcohol that they do not recognize the “bladder signal” in the middle of the night and wet the bed. To avoid this embarrassment, many people can train themselves subconsciously to get up every 2 or 3 hours to preventatively urinate and avoid a bed wetting episode. This habitual pattern can stick with an individual in sobriety – disrupting sleep patterns for many years.
- Conveniently locating yourself next to a bathroom. Just by locating yourself next to a bathroom, you are sending a signal to your brain and bladder that you can pee to your heart’s delight. The convenience factor can ultimately create a weak and overactive bladder. This same principle applies to anything in life. If its convenient for you to take the easy way out of a situation, chances are that you will – unless an authority figure or your own self-discipline stops you from doing so. It is important to recognize bad habits created through convenience.
Keeping a bladder diary supplemented with a healthy dose of introspective journaling can help you pinpoint habitual patterns as described above. The mind-body connection is very real. Most people look to the external world for help with their “problems”, rather than taking the time to look inward. By analyzing your habitual patterns and cross-referencing them to your bathroom trips, you may very well figure out how to end your nighttime trips to the bathroom once and for all.
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