Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is one the most common health problems on a global level, affecting between 10% and 30% of the population worldwide. In addition to physical discomfort, allergic rhinitis often impairs emotional and social aspects of a patient's life, especially work and school performance. It also may have a major impact on healthy ageing.
Although common in all age groups, allergic rhinitis is very often overlooked and under-diagnosed, especially in preschool children and the elderly population.
What make the clinical diagnosis difficult are the symptoms that often may relate to other conditions, such as both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, as well as chronic rhinosinusitis, which is, along with conjunctivitis and asthma, one of the frequent comorbidities of allergic rhinitis that make things worse, if not identified and treated on time.
Also, one of the biggest problems is an increase in the prevalence and severity of both allergy and asthma due to novel interactions between known allergens and other environmental factors, which is anticipated to grow even further due to climate changes. This anticipated increase will certainly affect clinical practice, as well as public health planning.
This is the reason why allergy sufferers should have the knowledge of the known allergen onset (i.e. when the pollen season will begin), in order to start treatment as early as possible for the better control of symptoms.
Recording these symptoms on a daily basis is also recommended to all patients with allergy. It is made easier thanks to mobile phones and numerous apps that work as symptom trackers and diaries.
French based health organization MACVIA, along with a non-governmental organization ARIA (Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma) has initiated an MACVIA-ARIA allergy sentinel network, and also developed the Allergy Diary app that enables patients with allergy to keep a daily record of their allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, as well as medication use.
After opening the app, you'll be asked to register, which is completely optional. However, even if you decided to opt-out, you won't be able to open the app before putting some general information about yourself, such as age, gender, country, as well as health-related information, i.e. if you have allergic rhinitis or asthma, what symptoms you have, medications you use, etc.
Once you finished adding information to your profile, the app will open to the simple screen, featuring the app's main options.
Users can further refine symptoms, which work as a simple rating scale that requires users to tap on the screen and drag the indicator across line to give response to three symptom questions (or four if you have asthma). These questions cover overall allergic symptoms, as well as specific eye and nose symptoms.
Users can also add medications they take each day, which range from oral, nasal, eye drops or injections. After you save the medications in your profile, you'll be able to record your medication use each day, or add new medication. Both symptoms and medications can be easily updated throughout the day or when needed. Here you can also choose if you're receiving an immunotherapy or not, which can also be saved in your profile.
Tracking your daily symptoms help you identify any patterns in them, allowing you to take control of your allergy. Also, keeping record of your medication use allows you to see how well your treatment is working, which should be discussed with your physician or pharmacist.
Once you've entered all the information the results would be shown in easy to read graphs, which allow you to view your symptom experience over time, in weeks, months, or years. To see medication you have used on a particular day, simply touch that day on the graph.
Here's one drawback. You can only track your symptoms from the day of the first entry. You can't set tracker retroactively, like some other record and tracker apps allow. For example, my tracker starts today (Thursday) and I can't set the start day to be on Monday, or in the beginning of the month, to see my progress during that period.
Nevertheless, the tracking graph looks nice, even better if you rotate screen horizontally.
The Allergy Diary app also includes reminder option to help you remember to track your symptoms, or to take your meds, which can be set every day, twice a day or once per week.
Also, if your record results suggest that your allergic rhinitis symptoms are uncontrolled for 3 days in a row, the Allergy Diary app will send alert suggesting you to share your results with your physician or pharmacist.
The app also includes two questionnaires about the effect the allergy has on you daily life, your work, school and daily activities.
As said, you can choose to register with the app, in which case your anonymous and encrypted data will be used by app creators (MACVIA-ARIA) to help them better understand the patient experience of allergic rhinitis, how it affect asthma, and the effectiveness of current treatment options.
Overall, the Allergy Diary by MACVIA-ARIA is a good addition to mobile app markets that will help allergy and asthma sufferers track their symptoms and medications in order to take control of their disease.
Benefit: The app is designed for patients, particularly those with allergic rhinitis (hay fever).