Posted on 28 Mar 2021
Bowel movement tracking might not sound pleasant, but it's a practical way of keeping on top of your IBD and empowers you, with your specialist, to create the best treatment plan for you. A good bowel movement tracking app can make the process a lot more convenient.
Recording the frequency, appearance and other aspects of your bowel movements can be invaluable to those living with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, and that’s the reason why the My IBD Care app includes a bowel movement tracker feature.
Here, we want to show you how easily you can track bowel movements, and how that can be used to minimise your IBD flare-ups and improve your treatment plan.
What the bowel movement tracker records
The bowel movement tracker sits within the My IBD Care app, and has its own section for easy input. The details for each record in the bowel movement log use the Bristol Stool Chart – a diagnostic medical tool that gives structure to what you record about each bowel movement.
When recording an entry you will be asked to fill in:
- Date & Time – Per movement
- Appearance – Using a choice of representative images
- Blood – If any is present
- Urgency – How much of a need you felt for this movement
- Notes – Any additional details of your movement, however minor, that you want to be aware of/discuss with your specialist.
The interface makes it quick and easy to record the key details about your stool, and the date and time of your bowel movements. This means you can record this valuable data without it interrupting your day. You can add an entry into the bowel movement tracker at any time, right afterward or at the end of the day, but soon after is recommended to ensure an accurate record.
Bowel movement tracking supports a healthy microbiome
If you have recently been diagnosed with IBD, are early in your journey, or are struggling with the symptoms of IBD, then you may be wondering why recording every bowel movement is important. It’s because your bowel movements can reveal a lot about the health of your gut microbiome – microbiome being the collection of microorganisms that exist within us.
A healthy microbiome ensures easy, regular digestion and passing of waste. Naturally, aiming for this is of particular importance to those living with IBD. Bowel movement tracking will help you better understand your microbiome and maintain a healthy gut. If you have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, a strong microbiome in your gastrointestinal system will offer relief from severe symptoms.
Keeping a food diary while bowel movement tracking will reveal the causes of flare-ups
Bowel movements are only part of the equation when it comes to your gut health. Alongside noting them in the bowel movement tracker, you may want to consider keeping a food diary. Combining this information will make it easier to identify which foods or drinks cause flare-ups in your Crohn’s or Colitis, which in turn will allow you to better self-manage your choices and prolong periods of remission.
There are some foods that can commonly cause flare-ups in those living with IBD, such as greasy or spicy foods, and there are some foods that are commonly used to improve gut microbiome, like yogurt or kimchi. How much these foods impact your gut, and your bowel movements, will be unique to you and so tracking what you are eating and how you are feeling digesting them will make the links between flare-ups and remission periods clearer.
IBD symptoms are interrelated and tracking them all makes the links easier to spot
Your IBD symptoms may at times seem to occur independently, but often they are connected. Sometimes it’s obvious, such as if you have to use the bathroom often in the night, you won’t sleep well. But what you might not consider is how a lack of sleep then impacts your mood and your digestion, and so increases your flare-ups. It works in the positive too, as lots of good sleep can lead to better digestion and a longer period of remission.
Tracking your bowel movements will help you and your specialist to understand how your IBD is faring, where there are issues with your treatment plan and how to address them – particularly when information from your bowel movement tracker is combined with other information in the My IBD Care app, such as sleep, diet and mood.
Seeing the patterns in your bowel movements and other factors can be hard to identify as you go along and if you aren’t recording this information, both the good and the bad. How one factor impacts your IBD might not immediately be obvious, but with a full record, your specialist can discover a through line that is invaluable in improving your treatment plan and helping you stay in control of your IBD.
Other features of the My IBD Care app
Many people living with IBD struggle, particularly in the early stages of understanding their diagnosis and during flare-ups. Ampersand Health wants to help make living with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease as painless and comfortable as possible, and one way to do this is by arming those living with IBD with information. This is why the My IBD Care app allows you to track your bowel movements along with other factors that impact living with IBD, such as: medication, stress and appointments, among others.