With the continued progression and popularity of smartphones, nearly everyone has the resources of the Internet and a personal computer with them at all times. This, of course, includes patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
So, why not use your phone to help you manage your disease?
There are many FREE smartphone apps available that can help you keep track of some important aspects of your condition. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are three of my favorites:
Disease Tracking App – GI Buddy
GI Buddy, an app from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), is a comprehensive tracker of your disease. This app allows you to document your symptoms, treatments, diet and impact to your everyday life.
If you create an account, or have one from another CCFA venture, you are able to access the community boards where you can ask questions and discuss your disease with others who are also affected. There is also a feature that allows you to store questions and issues that come up to discuss with your doctor at your next appointment.
In addition, you are able to input a complete list of your medications and the app will give you reminders to take them, as well as track missed doses.
One of my favorite features of this app is that it will, at your request, generate a report of all the health information you've documented and send it to you as an email. That way, you can bring a complete report with you to your next doctor's appointment and give your physician a true sense of your symptoms since your last visit.
Editor’s Note: As of September 7, 2018, the GI Buddy app was discontinued.
Calorie Tracking App – MyFitnessPal
While many people who track calories are looking to lose weight, IBD patients frequently lose weight because of inadequate nutrition, or have difficulty maintaining their weight. Fortunately, there are apps to help with this.
While not designed specifically for IBD patients, MyFitnessPal can not only help you track your calorie intake, but also give you targets based on your goals, as well as your height, gender, weight and exercise pattern. For example, it will tell you how many calories you should ingest if you are trying to maintain your weight and what is an optimal breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
You can also connect this app to some other popular fitness tools like FitBit and MapMyRun to track your exercise.
Maintaining appropriate nutrition if you have active IBD can often be a challenge, but this app can really help patients track their calorie intake so that they can make sure they are getting the vital nutrients they need.
Bathroom Locator App – Sit or Squat
IBD patients are not the only people that find themselves frequently running to the bathroom, but they may need to do so more than most.
Sit or Squat is an app developed by toilet paper manufacturer Charmin. It allows you to search for nearby bathrooms and filter your results by certain criteria – including "free."
Users can also leave reviews of the bathroom facilities. If a bathroom appears in green, it's been reviewed as clean and you can feel comfortable to "sit." But if you see red, you should probably "squat."
While I personally cannot verify the accuracy of the reviews, if you really have to go, this is an app that can help you find a nearby location.