Do iPhone health apps work?

The number of iPhone health applications, those handy tools you can download (often for free), is already bordering on intimidating.

You can now diagnose your symptoms, track your calorie intake, get fit, monitor mood swings, quit smoking, meditate or seek spiritual guidance — all through the touch screen in your back pocket.

Health apps range from the genuinely useful — type in a symptom, get a diagnosis — to the distinctly superfluous.

Do you really need to use your phone to monitor your partner’s contractions during labour?

Even the United Kingdom’s National Health Service is on board with its new ‘Drinks Tracker”, allowing people to calculate and control their alcohol intake.

And in January, one woman told The Sun newspaper that the Free Menstrual Calendar app was responsible for the conception of her baby, after four years of trying. Doctors, too, are increasingly using apps to keep up with medical news.

But for us patients, using socalled ‘doctor apps” should never replace a visit to a flesh-and-blood general practitioner. And if in doubt about any advice you read, says Professor Steve Field, chairperson of the Royal College of General Practitioners, ‘always check that the information is validated by the NHS”.

Generally, though, he says: ‘These apps are fantastic — the more information people have about their health, the better.” Odds are that it won’t be long until most of us have app-friendly mobile phones, so here is our pick of the best doctor apps available so far.

Diagnostic Tools
WebMD Mobile (free): Enter some personal details, then use the body map ‘symptom checker” to narrow down your symptoms and get a ‘diagnosis”. It’s surprisingly easy and quick.

You can also access information about medications and treatments, and there is a useful First Aid tool that covers anything from heart attacks to cuts and bruises.

SymptomMD (R15): Great for those worried about whether to ‘bother” the doc: you tap in your symptoms, then answer questions to find out how urgently you need help, or how to treat the problem yourself.There is also the Paediatric SymptomMD app, for fretting parents.

Fitness
RunKeeper (free): Use GPS to monitor your runs (or walks). This will track your speed, distance, timing and how many calories you burned. You can then link up to the runkeeper.com website to view a history of your achievements. Good, free motivation.

iFitness (R7.50): A worldwide bestseller, this one is for gym bunnies, offering hundreds of gym-based training programs, from ‘Body Toning for Women” to ‘Glutes Definition” via ‘Expert Golf”. You can customise your workouts, set goals and monitor progress.

Emotional wellbeing
Yoga Trainer Lite (free): Provides yoga tutorials for all abilities, plus easy-to-follow, calming meditations. You have to read explanations of the poses (rather than hear them) so it can be tricky at first, but it’s a handy tool to have on the go.

Pzizz Relax (R68): This nifty app uses calming sound relaxation. Use it for short or long ‘naps” to de-stress and energise, or at night to tackle insomnia. Unlike other relaxation apps, you can customise the length of your ‘pzizz” and turn the voiceover on or off.

Pregnancy
Pregnancy Tracker from WhattoExpect.com (free): From the author of the bestselling pregnancy book, this helps you to trace the growth of your baby (in both measurements and, hilariously, as compared to objects such as walnuts or papayas), see pictures of a developing foetus and make a library of your own belly snapshots. Very informative, if you can stand the cutesy Americanisms.

iPregnancy (R23): This has better pictures of the growing baby. It also helps you get organised, with space to log antenatal appointments and the questions you want to ask, along with potential baby names.

Diet and Nutrition
Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal (free): Tap in your age, gender, lifestyle details and weight-loss goal and you’re away. It’ll set a daily calorie limit and help you track your food and exercise throughout the day. A potentially effective weight-loss tool, if you’re prepared to be brutally
honest.

Tap & Track — Calorie, Weight and Exercise Tracker (R23): This one gives you not just the calories but also the nutritional value of what you eat and drink, keeping a daily tally and giving you breakdowns of your average carb, fat, protein, fibre, sugar, sodium or GI index. —

Advertisting

Failure to investigate TRC cases during the Mandela era delayed...

Counsel for late trade unionist Neil Aggett’s family decries the slow pace of instituting an inquest into his death

SANDF colonel accused of swindling colleagues in UN business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal

Mass store and job cuts at Massmart

Changed market conditions and an appalling economy has hit low end cash-and-carry outlets

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated
Advertising

Press Releases

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.