Can you wear a device to monitor your IBD?
Your IBD activity is currently monitored using blood tests, stool tests and imaging such as ultrasounds and MRI and through procedures such as colonoscopy. But these tests can be invasive, time consuming and expensive and do not offer real time monitoring. What if there was a new way to monitor how your IBD activity was going through a wearable device much like how a diabetic can wear a portable device to monitor their sugars? Could this allow us to be proactive and act before an IBD flare begins?
A 2023 study published at the Crohn’s And Colitis Congress1, which is a scientific meeting where the latest ground-breaking research is presented, has shown that it may be possible for you to wear a device which can allow you to get real time information about what is occurring inside your body. It monitors the inflammatory markers inside your sweat which reflects the amount of inflammation in the body. It also is personalised to each person as it will take a baseline for the amount of inflammatory markers in your body when you are in remission.
Another 2023 study2 published at the same congress demonstrates the possibility of using smart watches to monitor your disease activity and potentially make you aware of a flare even when you have no symptoms. Participants wore Apple Watches that calculated the variation in their heart rate throughout the day. Your heart rate is constantly changing, when you exercise your heart rate increases compared to when you are resting or sleeping. When study participants had a higher heart rate than average it was consistent with a flare with symptoms. Interestingly when their heart rates were lower than average it was still consistent with a flare, even when they had no symptoms because they still had elevated inflammatory markers.
Both studies however involve very early research and only were conducted on a small group of participants. Another difficulty of purely using heart rate monitoring or sweat monitoring of inflammatory markers is that many infections or conditions with inflammation can also increase the inflammatory markers in your body or change your heart rate. So, for the foreseeable future you won’t be able to escape the blood tests and you should continue to see your doctor for monitoring of your IBD.
- LONGITUDINAL MONITORING OF INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE ACTIVITY USING WEARABLE DEVICES THROUGH INFLAMMATORY MARKERS IN SWEAT | Inflammatory Bowel Diseases | Oxford Academic [Internet]. [cited 2023 May 21]. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ibdjournal/article/29/Supplement_1/S19/7005481
- Hirten R, Danieletto M, Landell K, Lyu J, Whang J, Zweig M, et al. PHYSIOLOGICAL METRICS COLLECTED FROM WEARABLE DEVICES IDENTIFY INFLAMMATORY AND CLINICAL INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE FLARES. Gastroenterology. 2023 Apr 1;164(4):S28.