What is a Symptom Diary and Why Do You Need One?

Discover the benefits of keeping a symptom diary to help treat your health issues!

Your body has only one way to let you know something is wrong and that is through symptoms. It is a major problem when symptoms become disruptive to your day-to-day life. Whether you are experiencing symptoms that occur at the same time every day, symptoms that come for a week and then are gone, symptoms from a diagnosed illness, or newfound, sudden symptoms, keeping a symptom diary can help pinpoint patterns or triggers to help alleviate any health issues.

What is a Symptom Diary?

Often, when we notice a disruptive change in our body, we contact our physician to get a better understanding of what is going on. Keeping a diary of symptoms – what they are, when they occur, the intensity, etc. – can be a very useful tool in helping a physician accurately diagnose you or eliminate the triggers that are causing problems. 

A symptom diary consists of detailed notes on how you are feeling. Whether using pen and paper in a journal or an application on your phone, your journal should include these four things:

  • The symptoms experienced, including the severity.
  • The timing of the symptoms, including the date and duration.
  • The medication(s) used to soothe the symptoms and the effect.
  • Any additional information that may be linked to the symptom.

Why do you need a Symptom Diary?

The more detailed information you can give a doctor when discussing an internal problem, the faster and more accurate your diagnoses and personalized treatment plan will be. Sometimes, it is easy to forget small details or your most important questions when talking with a physician.

A symptom diary organizes the details of what is going on with your body and, in turn, helps a physician make more informed decisions about what the next steps may be. Also, when noticing triggers from repetitive things noted in the diary, you may be able to make certain lifestyle adjustments as needed.

Tips for Keeping a Symptom Diary

1. Be consistent

Make sure you write your symptoms daily. Even if you are not experiencing anything, you should write exactly that. Also, you want to be as detailed as possible every time.

2. Make it accessible

You need to be able to access your symptom diary anytime you need it so you can record the details most accurately and in the moment.

3. Be truthful

Your journal should be an accurate recap of your symptoms. Be careful not to downplay or exaggerate any symptoms.

4. Bring to All Appointments

Make sure that you have your symptom diary with you at every doctor’s appointment to keep your physician up to date on your symptoms to get a better understanding of what’s going on in your day-to-day life.

As we kick off 2024, incorporate something new and sure to help you remain healthy this year. A symptom diary will only enhance your medical experience. At Albuquerque ER & Hospital, our physicians provide each patient with one-on-one, unique care, no matter the illness or injury. Come on in. We are open 24/7, without the wait.

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Albuquerque ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.