Cara is a fantastic app that helps people correlate digestive symptoms with foods, menstrual cycles, sleep, water intake, pain, stress and physical activity. When I heard about this app I thought “finally, my dream app exists” because I have been wanting a way for people to track multiple factors that relate to digestion that includes different ways to look at the data. This app was designed by doctors and has reliable ways to track subjective symptoms. I found that this app is easy to use and after around one to two weeks of using it, I found that the data provided some extremely useful information.
Understanding the Patterns of a Person’s Digestive Symptoms
As a physician, this app helps me understand the patterns of a person’s symptoms. I notice that people will often report how they are feeling at the time of the visit but it’s hard to get a sense of whether things are improving in general or if they are still following the same variations as they did in the past. This becomes especially difficult when we work with therapeutic diets because the results don’t happen overnight and are sometimes nonlinear. Also, there are many people who tell me that their digestive symptoms get worse when they travel or in particular circumstances. By using this app, we can determine if the changes in their symptoms are due to decreased water intake, less physical activity, more stress or changes in food intake (or all of the above).
Sifting Through the Many Factors of Digestive Changes
One of the most challenging things we do as doctors is to sift through all of the many factors that can contribute to digestive changes to find the one or two that have the most impact for a particular individual. Even when we prescribe a medication, supplement or herb, it can be tricky to determine whether the patient’s symptoms improved because they started to take the prescribed treatment or because they stopped eating doughnuts. It is like trying to hit a constantly moving target. There are medications and herbs that will stop diarrhea or treat constipation but they often have side effects. When we can identify the factors that contribute to digestive symptoms, we can often get improvement with only positive side effects and no need for daily medication.
The Cara app syncs with Apple Health to bring in data about your physical activity for the day. If you like to use another app for diet tracking, it will bring in that data as well.
The interface is very easy to use with good measures for symptoms and stool types as well as an easy to use food tracking system. I am excited about this app because it helps me identify patterns in symptoms and empowers people by helping them figure out what they can do to feel better.