A new, free-to-download app from non-profit Allergy & Asthma Network could help people better monitor and understand how asthma affects them or their children and provide potentially valuable insights for healthcare professionals.
Called the Asthma Storylines app and available for the iPhone, Android and the desktop, it can be used for tracking everything from frequency of specific symptoms and emotional impact, to setting up reminders for taking medication or for medical appointments.
The idea of the app is to create a comprehensive picture of how asthma manifests itself in an individual over time and potentially identify triggers as much as patterns. Alongside a diary and journal feature for noting routine changes and observations, there's a section for jotting down questions for doctors and other healthcare professionals plus a social element. Users can connect with other asthmatics via the app in order to build a virtual support circle.
Asthma is an increasingly prevalent condition around the world, affecting people of all ages. The Global Asthma Network estimates that as many as 334 million currently suffer from the illness, and that that figure could climb by a further 100 million within the next decade.
Although many emerging regions of the world appear to be catching up, asthma, which affects the bronchial tubes (i.e., the airways) and which can present itself as wheezing, coughing, breathlessness or a tightening chest, is still a disease that impacts the populations of the wealthiest countries, hardest.
In the US alone one in 12 of the population are considered asthmatic and in the UK that figure rises to one in 11 -- the highest rates in Europe. However, despite its prevalence, asthma can be a very personal illness, provoking different symptoms in different suffers.
"Asthma is a variable disease, with symptoms that may seem random," said Tonya Winders, Allergy & Asthma Network President and CEO. "With understanding and a watchful eye, however, patients and families can see the pattern of their symptoms and learn to prevent and treat them before they get out of control. The Asthma Storylines app offers families a way to build and see the story of their child's health and work with their healthcare team to develop a personalized Asthma Action Plan of prevention and treatment."
The Asthma Storylines app is by no means unique, AsthmaMD, which is also free to download, also offers users the ability to keep an asthma journal and to visualize symptoms and asthma activity on a graph. It also gives its users the choice of opting in or out of a research study aimed at compiling more compressive, granular data on the disease.