Top 10 Free Apps for Patients with MCAS
These days, it seems we are bombarded with information overload and technology. My general philosophy on phone apps is one of “less is more” … but I think that they can be useful tools in some instances. The trouble is, it often takes a lot of troubleshooting to find one that meets your needs, is free of charge, and does what it says it does. Over the past several months I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite apps to assist with management of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. (I have no vested interest in any of these companies, I simply like their apps!)
Don’t let the strange name fool you – this one is recommended by many news channels and doctors alike. Ipiit is an app that lets you scan grocery barcodes to assist in quick determination of whether the food is laden with undesirable ingredients. You can customize your food preferences (for example, gluten-free, non-GMO, lactose-free, dairy-free, egg-free, MSG-free, soy-free absent of corn syrup or aspartame, etc). Suggests alternative products and provides nutritional information.
Cons: Some reviewers claim that the food database is insufficient, and that the customizable options are lacking categories for aspects like nightshades, salicylates, or vegan or vegetarian diets. And some would argue that you’ll be better off if you keep processed foods to a minimum and manually look at the (few) food labels you do end up buying.
This is an urgent symptom tool that notifies specified family members, doctors or other contacts of acute episodes with a few quick screen selections. May be useful for those who struggle to talk during flare-ups, but want someone to know what is going on. (However, this app is obviously not a good choice to replace 911 or medication administration in the event of anaphylaxis).
Cons: Settings for episodes ask you to select a body area which can be tricky with MCAS. This app does not activate EMS.
The Quotes app is a great free resource to uplift you on days of struggle, become your phone screensaver of the week, or provide some fun social media sharing material. The free version comes with nice image quality and a big library of options with 20 different categories. Who doesn’t love a good positive quote every now and then?! You’ll be surprised with the diversity of content in this app.
Cons: Free version has occasional ads.
WebMD has created a useful app for those who experience seasonal allergies and triggers such as insect bites and stings, latex, drugs, and foods. This app provides information on real-time outdoor allergen prevalence for your location (like dust, mold, ragweed, grass and trees). You can set up alerts on your phone for when certain trigger counts are high. It also has symptom tracking options and a library of articles and information.
Cons: Somewhat basic for the sufferer of MCAS, but still provides some helpful information for symptom management.
This app is chock-full of great features and is an excellent resource for those with MCAS who also suffer with adrenal fatigue and autonomic nervous system issues (and possibly even POTS!) Tools include visual biofeedback, audio and visual breathing guides, and programs to help you reduce stress and calm down your nervous system. The creators claim that a simple 5 minutes/day of regular use can make a big difference on your health. For many, the end-goal is using this until you are able to blindly and independently tune into and alter your heart rate changes throughout the day.
Cons: Many features of this app require a Bluetooth 4.0 smart compatible heart rate monitor, but it’s compatible with multiple brands.
This new app has something for everyone! It lets you input your own food allergies, your child’s food allergies, and information about additional people you may care for or cook for. You create your own personal look-alike emoji (which is awesome in itself!) and customize your allergen list and news feed preferences. Essentially, you create a profile that can interact with other users that gives you access to a multitude of tools.
Cons: This is a relatively new app, so it’s restaurant database is somewhat limited.
The Road ID is a company that originally targeted athletes, but the functions in this personal safety app can be applied to just about anyone, and it comes with lots of customizable options. You can set up a phone lock screen with emergency contact information and personal health information like medications and allergies. The app also has tools that are especially useful for when you are exercising or walking solo. You can set up SMS or email messages to contacts that activate if you are stationary for a certain number of minutes. eCrumb tracking allows for contacts to track your physical location progress on a map.
Cons: Only notifies your contacts – does not activate EMS.
This app is a simple symptoms tracker that allows you to manually input foods and beverages, medications and supplements, exercise, environmental factors, and other info. alongside a daily symptom log. The customizable symptom log options are especially useful for patients with MCAS, and it has the ability to track patterns over time and sync up with other devices.
Cons: The food log part can be a bit tedious at first, but it allows you to save your “favorite” common meal ingredients for easy access the next time.
This mindfulness app is great resource for short guided meditations ranging from 3 to 25 minutes. The meditations are suitable for both beginners and intermediate/advanced users, making it a very versatile resource. The app also provides instruction for breathing exercises, a library of relaxing music and nature sounds, and stories to listen to at night to help reduce insomnia. Kid-friendly options, meditation tracking features, and multi-week programs round out the abundance of options. A must-have for anyone experiencing chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and insomnia!
Cons: Can’t think of any. This app a 5-star hit!
I’m so glad I stumbled upon this one! Think Dirty is a health and beauty product app that lets you scan or manually enter product names to search for ingredients and a product “dirty meter” rating (from a database of nearly one million products!) The app displays separate ratings for carcinogenity, developmental & reproductive toxicity, and allergies/immunotoxicities for each product. It also provides an overall rating for the collective “my bathroom shelf” and provides alternative product ideas. A wonderful tool.
Cons: Honestly can’t think of any! This app is fantastic!
What are YOUR favorite health-related apps? Please do share with a comment below!
This content is Copyright © Mast Cells United and is not intended to diagnose or treat anyone. Always consult your medical professional for any health guidance or advice.