by Amanda Demeules, Contributor
Since my lupus diagnosis five years ago, I have slowly built a toolkit to help me live with lupus. This toolkit contains people (doctors, therapist, family, friends), medications, relaxation techniques (meditation, yoga, exercise) and spreadsheets! When I was first diagnosed with lupus, overwhelmed was one of the many things I felt and one way I tried to bring order to my life was by creating spreadsheets. I had a spreadsheet to track my symptoms and a spreadsheet to track my lab tests. It was not the most easy-to-use system; but it helped me stay organized and feel a sense of control.
Fast forward five years and I recently started looking into medical, mobile apps, and how they could become part of my lupus toolkit (and maybe even get me to delete my spreadsheets). I picked two apps, Flaredown and Medisafe, to use for the past two months, and offer up the following review of each:
Flaredown (free on iOS/Android and via web)
In the app store, Flaredown is described as a “beautifully simple symptom tracking app and a community for chronic illness.”
In my experience, you can track multiple conditions all in the same app, and for each condition, you can customize what to track including symptoms, treatments, food, medications, etc. During daily check-ins, you can record on a scale how active your condition is as well as the symptoms you chose to track (and you can add new symptoms very easily).
I found Flaredown easy to use and liked that you could set up an alert to remind yourself to check in daily. After tracking for a few weeks, it was helpful to see how my symptoms were over time in the history section of the app. I can really see myself reviewing my symptom charts before seeing my rheumatologist. We always talk about how active my lupus is, but since I only see her every three-six months, this app would really help me be more accurate at describing how my symptoms have been since I last saw her.
Medisafe (free on iOS and Android)
Medisafe is a pill and medication reminder application.
Medisafe allows you to build your med cabinet within the app and then set up reminders to alert you to take your medicine (with customizable notification messages and tones). When adding a new medication, you add dosage, appearance, frequency you should take the medicine and at what times (which will link to your reminders). The app will remind and send two follow-up reminders if you miss the first reminder. You can track that you took your medication and there are reports to show how often you adhere to the schedule you set up.
I found the med cabinet easy to edit and modify. I liked that you can suspend certain medications (like prednisone), but still keep it in the app in case you have to use the medication again. I also liked that it has time zone support; so if you travel, you’re not off your medication schedule.
Another great feature is the ability to add other users in case you’re managing medications for family members. Overall, the app was easy to use and I liked the reminders, especially when you start taking a new medication or have a medication with a unique schedule.
Bottom line: both of the applications will be staying on my phone and will become part of my toolkit! As for my spreadsheets, Flaredown will definitely take the place of one of them!