Published by Very Welll Health
The months after receiving a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a confusing and overwhelming time. Some people with IBS have dealt with symptoms for years without knowing the cause or how to manage it. They may have tried many different lifestyle changes, diets, and even medications without hitting on the right combination for their symptoms.
People with IBS are not a monolith; the symptoms and how they lead to lowering quality of life are different for each person. That’s why using health apps that are meant for people who don’t live with a digestive condition may prove to be frustrating and unhelpful. There are, however, many apps that are made especially for people who live with IBS and can help in learning more about the condition as well as in managing it.
As with any changes to a care plan, it’s important to discuss them first with a physician. For making adjustments in diet, consulting with a dietitian is also helpful. Working with healthcare providers can help ensure that the lifestyle changes being implemented will have the best chance at success.
BOWELLE — THE IBS TRACKER
Bowelle is an app for the iPhone that helps people who live with IBS or other digestive issues to track diet and symptoms. It integrates with Apple Health, which logs other health information such as step count, weight, and sleep habits.
Bowelle can help people with IBS monitor how they feel throughout the day. A daily average is calculated to capture the differences in not only how someone feels on any one particular day, but also throughout the day. Users choose the icon that best represents how they feel.
Bowel movements, which can be a major sign of how a digestive condition is progressing, are also tracked. How many movements and their consistency, from hard to loose, the amount, and if there was any urgency, discomfort, mucus, or blood, are also logged.
Tracking foods can be an important part of managing IBS. In the Bowelle app, users can either keep a description of their meals or take a photo of them. Rather than relying on memory, there’s an accurate record of everything eaten.
A time stamp can also be put on each entry in the food log, which may help when trying to understand if any particular foods or beverages cause symptoms.
There’s also a section for custom fields. This helps individualize the use of the app. People with IBS can have different triggers other than food or stress. The customization helps in making sure that these issues are captured and added to the overall picture.
After tracking data for six days, a report can be generated. This report can be used in conjunction with a visit to a healthcare professional in order to start to sort out what some of the IBS triggers might be.
Bowelle is available on iPhone.
Cara Care is an app for iPhone and Android phones that helps people who live with several different types of digestive diseases and disorders, including IBS, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), or dyspepsia, track signs and symptoms.
Reports can be given that offer an overview of a day, a week, or a month. The signs and symptoms that are included in the app are bowel movements (including aspects such as urgency, color, and pressure), stomach pain, skin condition, and headache or other pain.
Some of the facets of overall health that can be tracked in these reports include mood, stress, menses, exercise, sleep, and the amount of water drank. Any of these can be removed from tracking, or additional signs and symptoms could be added, making the experience of the app more personalized.
Cara Care also offers recipes in the app. The recipes can be customized based on taste, preference, and what a user has on hand in their kitchen. For instance, a smoothie recipe can be customized with different types of fruits, nuts, and optional ingredients, such as maple syrup.
Along with the recipe there are tips that help the user to understand how this recipe might fit into an overall eating plan, such as if it contains ingredients that need to be used in moderation.
Cara Care is available on iPhone and Android.
MONASH UNIVERSITY FODMAP DIET
The Monash University FODMAP app is paid, but there’s a good reason for that. It is created by the institution in Australia which developed the low FODMAP (fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols) diet.
This diet is important in IBS and some other digestive conditions. This is because it’s thought that these short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols are not well absorbed in the small intestine. The result is an increase in liquid and gas in the digestive tract, which can translate to symptoms of bloating and diarrhea.
This app can help determine which foods are higher in FODMAPs and offers suggestions on how to replace them with lower FODMAP foods. The app uses a “red, yellow, green” system to identify which foods are higher and lower in FODMAPs.
The diary within the app helps capture foods eaten, symptoms, bowel habits, and stress level. All of this information is used to help determine which foods or combination of foods may be causing symptoms.
The Monash app is not only helpful in adopting a low FODMAP diet but also in the reintroduction of foods. Eating low FODMAP is not meant to be a forever diet. It is meant to be used in order to understand signs and symptoms in relation to foods. Therefore the app offers a guide to adding foods back into the diet.
The Monash University FODMAP Diet app is available on iPhone, Android, and Amazon.
A WORD FROM VERYWELL
IBS can be a challenging condition to manage. Lifestyle changes are often used in treating IBD but making these adjustments can be complex. People with IBS are looking for not only information about how to make these changes but also the evidence supporting them.
These apps can help people with IBS understand the choices that are available to them and sort through all their own signs and symptoms. Whether it is to provide information to healthcare providers or understand how lifestyle changes affect symptoms, using apps can be helpful to people who live with IBS.