I have a very non-threatening chronic kidney condition. One of the recommended management techniques is to drink a lot of liquids - this keeps my kidneys from retaining more water than they need to. The obvious downside is that I need to visit the bathroom semi-frequently (maybe 4ish times a day, but each visit is short).

Even if I am working at my desk and not in a meeting, I'm concerned this may be viewed as unprofessional behavior. I certainly don't want to cause any trouble at my workplace, but this is something recommended as a management technique by my nephrologist. I doubt the viability of carrying around a certificate from my Doctor and displaying it to all my coworkers on my way to the bathroom.

Meetings do not generally pose an issue, as longer meetings are usually scheduled in advance and will have a bathroom break at some point.

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    Is 4ish times a day that odd? I don't think anyone would notice unless you had to break a conversation to leave.
    – David K
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:25
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    I'm concerned this may be viewed as unprofessional behavior. - The alternative is unprofessional
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:40
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    Some people are addict to drinking coffee and/or tea. These people have to take bathroom breaks often. So, really, don't worry about it :)
    – user48138
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:00
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    @Alexandre is exactly right. I consume a lot of fluids and consequently usually need to go to the bathroom five or six times during my shift. Nobody cares. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:03
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    Why do you think 4 times per an 8-hour workday is unusual? Seems perfectly normal to me, though I admit that I've never monitored co-workers bathroom habits.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 17:19

6 Answers 6


I'm concerned this may be viewed as unprofessional behavior.

Don't be. As long as it's only a short break of a few minutes, nobody cares in the stereotypical office environment.

I know this answer is short, but there is really nothing more to say. You are overthinking this.

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    There is one more thing to say. If the extremely unlikely happens and the business does decide to make it an issue, having a legitimate medical condition requiring a couple more pit stops a day than the other employees is grounds for a reasonable accommodation request. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:01
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    @EsotericScreenName in some countries this is also considered moral harassment, and on big corporations probably goes against their ethics code. Also, the problem is between OP and his boss, the only one that should be made aware of his medical condition. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 20:02
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    At the end of each day, write down how many times you notice your co-workers taking a washroom break. Logically deduce if that's remotely accurate. Do this for couple days and you'll realize you really don't care. Nobody else does either, unless they're sitting in the bathroom and is responsible for keeping it clean.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 8:38
  • Assuming your frequency is actually noticeable (4 is not) there are two issues here. Unprofessional enough to fire you? Not with a doctor's note. Unprofessional enough that someone else gets promoted over you? Well maybe if you work for Trump. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 21:42

First off, 4 times a day is not excessive. That is not far off normal for most people.

Secondly, unless you are holding all day workshops, you have time between meetings to take a break. And even if you are in all day workshops, these must have regular coffee breaks, rest breaks etc (many countries mandate this in employment law)

Thirdly, if you have an urgent need to go somewhere it is almost always appropriate to excuse yourself - be polite, and explain you need to take 5 minutes. (Possible exceptions include: being in an interview, presenting on stage etc)

If you are in a call centre environment, your break times may be mandated, or at the least closely controlled and monitored, but as commented below, in that scenario you will have a representative to speak to about this.

Myself - I try to take a break every hour, just for a walk away from my desk. Sometimes I can't, but it is a healthy thing to build in as part of your daily routine - good for general fitness, keeping you alert, and helping avoid back problems and circulatory issues.

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    Third: It's always appropriate if you consider the alternative :-( The OP is lucky that the problem is just "how often"; there are people with health problems that are worse (who can't use public transport, for example).
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:17
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    I'd imagine the asker probably has colleagues who smoke who leave their desks for a few minutes more than 4 times a day, and haven't noticed. It does depend on the workplace though - for example short breaks in environments similar to call centres and production lines are closely monitored (but there would also be a person responsible who the asker could discuss their condition with). Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 16:17

The chance is that if you think that going to the bathroom 4 times a day is much, you drink too little water as it is today. For me, going to the bathroom 4 times a day or more is completely normal. So drinking more water in your case would probably be a good idea, having a kidney condition or not. If not otherwise to prevent getting kidney problems ;)

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    I agree that 4 times a day is pretty normal, but I really think you should avoid giving medical advice about an unknown kidney problem when you don't have enough details to give good information.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 19:35

I can see how it could be a little awkward for colleagues if you're in the middle of a conversation and then you need to go to the bathroom. But I doubt that's the case. And when it does happen, it's not like you look any less professional. You're human after all. Personally I drink lots and lots of water throughout the whole day because it cools me down. Obviously it has the same side effect that you have.

Whenever I need to go while I'm in the middle of a conversation, I politely interrupt them and ask them to hold their thought as I excuse myself to go to the bathroom.

It becomes unprofessional and concerning if you need to go to the bathroom literally every 30 minutes. Not because of the frequent "breaks" you'd be taking, but due to the reduced possibility to talk to you without being interrupted. Which means that @VarunAgw's eye stretching breaks are still fine.

Seeing as you say you go to the bathroom around 4 times a day, you should easily be fine. Even if that number were to double.

TL;DR, Things are fine, just excuse yourself. Going to the bathroom makes you more human, not less professional.

  • It's not at all unprofessional if you go literally every 30 minutes. It's an indication of a health problem; having health problems is not unprofessional.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 12:19

I'm concerned this may be viewed as unprofessional behavior

By who?

The only person who really matters is your boss, and if she has a problem with it she will bring it up to you, and then you can explain the issue.

If Joe Blow a few cubes down is keeping tabs on how often you go to the bathroom, that's his problem, not yours.

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    'Joe Blow', that's funny.
    – cst1992
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 6:48
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    @cst1992: Tell that to Joe Blow. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 0:30
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit That can easily win the "funniest thing of the week" award. Unless more fail-army videos will be uploaded to youtube. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 14:17

Almost everyone I know in the office goes to have a wee four times per day … or more.

I don't know whether it's just because of the constant stream of tea and coffee, or because it honestly doesn't seem like a huge quantity of bathroom breaks anyway.

But, either way, I don't think you need to worry about this whatsoever.

tl;dr: this is normal

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