Chronic pain is confusing. It can be hard to pin down foods or activities that trigger pain, difficult to tell if a medication had any effect, and overwhelming when your physician asks how you’ve been feeling.
This is why a lot of medical professionals recommend journaling to keep track of pain triggers, flares, medications, activities, and everything else. However, few people will carry around a journal all day, and even fewer will remember to scribble down notes. Like everything else, though, there’s an app for that.
Flaredown was designed by and for people with chronic illness.
The creator of this app, Logan Merriam, has Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. After years of unsuccessful treatments, Logan finally resorted to tracking all the details of his life and how they affected his disease. This helped him find ways to better manage his Crohn’s, but it also gave him the idea for the Flaredown app.
The press page for the app describes its purpose, explaining:
“An app that helps patients track their health and treatments, and visualize them so they can see how their choices affect their illness. And furthermore, can use that data to evaluate treatment efficacy on a broader scale, and identify environmental factors that are likely to trigger patients’ symptoms.”
Logan, a web designer, eventually began working with a team to develop Flaredown. A web developer, a data scientist, and even a rheumatologist have worked together to help with development of the app.
Flaredown is a simple way to track your pain or illness.
To use Flaredown, you log in each day and answer a few quick questions. The questions are specific to each person’s illness, although it’s not necessary to denote a specific illness at check-in. Currently, there are only specific check-ins for Crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis, but the developers are working to make the app flexible enough to work with a large variety of different conditions, such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic migraines
You can also track your treatments with Flaredown. Once you’ve recorded all this information, the app crunches the numbers and can produce a graph that allows you to visualize the effects of various triggers, activities, and treatments. For example, if you see a decrease in pain after you start a new medication, you’ll know it’s working. Simple as the concept may seem, it could make all the difference by detangling all the potential influences on your pain levels.
Appointments with your physician can also be improved by using Flaredown.
If you have a chronic pain condition and see your physician once every month or two, answering the question “How have you been lately?” can be downright overwhelming. Weeks’ worth of trying to remember how much you hurt, what caused it, and what eased the pain can get muddled. You may be unable to remember how your pain responded to a new supplement or exercise, and as a result, your physician will have less information with which to help you.
Thanks to the information you’ve carefully catalogued with Flaredown, though, you’ll have plenty of accurate information to show your physician. You can even print off the data you want to share. The rheumatologist who’s helped to develop Flaredown worked to make sure that the information presented to physicians by the app was in a helpful format, so your physician will probably be glad of the clear, concise, reliable data.
In addition to empowering individual patients, Flaredown will help empower patients as a group.
With many chronic pain conditions, the only way to learn how to manage pain is to experience it. It can take years to learn, by trial and error, how to successfully manage pain levels. Each individual is different, but there are often treatments or triggers that have similar results for different people. Flaredown makes it easier to figure out these similar results.
The Flaredown app boasts an Insights section. Here, information from other people using the app is combined into statistics. For example, the app can combine data from users with lupus who track the effects of stress levels on pain. The app can then show individual users how other people with lupus have responded to stress.
Any treatments or triggers that users are tracking can be shown as statistics. This means that if you’re skeptical about how a specific supplement or activity might affect you, you’ve got a database to show you how others with the same condition have responded. Additionally, there’s a discussion section for each treatment or trigger page, allowing users to talk about their experiences.
This aspect of the Flaredown app might be especially useful for newly diagnosed people. Small details about chronic illnesses, such as sensitivities to specific foods or temperatures, may often be overlooked by physicians or other medical professionals, because there’s so much information that they need to convey to their patients. However, by looking at the Insights provided by Flaredown, newly diagnosed people can have a leg up when it comes to figuring out how to manage their pain, without the trial-and-error that most people have to go through.
For anyone concerned about privacy in an app that combines users’ data like this, Flaredown takes its users’ privacy settings and security into consideration. Scroll down on this page to read about everything Flaredown does to maintain its users’ privacy and security.
Flaredown isn’t yet available to the public, but you can watch its development and even get early access.
The development of Flaredown was funded on IndieGoGo. It’s already surpassed its original campaign goal, but you can still donate funds. Donations of $15 or more will get you early access to the app if you can’t wait for the free final version to be released. The IndieGoGo page states that donating now will get you instant early access, and this early access will last for several months. The early access version doesn’t yet boast all the features the developers want, but already it’s undergone some serious changes based on contributors’ comments.
To follow Flaredown’s development, you can keep an eye on its Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages. Already a supportive community is building around the app’s development, particularly on Facebook and Twitter; stories and information about chronic illness and pain are often shared. Additionally, the app developers are good about answering questions and comments, both on social media and on the app’s IndieGoGo page.
Are you considering getting early access to the Flaredown app?
Image by Johan Larsson via Flickr