User Guide

 

Introduction

mySymptoms enables you to conveniently record what you eat and drink along with any symptoms you experience. This information can then be analyzed in an attempt to identify any correlations (possible links) between what you ate and drank and the symptoms you experienced.

 

How to Use mySymptoms

You can record as much or as little as you find convenient and appropriate for your symptoms. However, for most symptoms it is recommended that you aim to record as much detail as possible – including all of the ingredients of the foods you eat, any drinks you consume, and any medications or supplements you take. Also other factors such as specific exercises, stress levels, and environmental factors may be important to record.

 

When you first use the app you will likely find that the food database doesn't include all the foods you eat. When searching for a food, if it doesn't show in the results list, simply tap the 'Add' button and it will be added to the food database for future use. After you've been using the diary for a few days, you should find data entry becomes much easier as the app begins to show you your 'favorite' foods for each daily meal. 

 

Don't worry too much if you miss the odd ingredient here or there, or if you miss the occasional meal or drink – so long as it's not a consistent lapse!

 

When you suffer any symptoms, you should record them in your diary with the time set to the initial onset of the symptoms. You should also set the intensity of a symptom to be the average intensity of the symptom over the duration of the episode (event), even if the symptom lasts for a number of hours. (This is done so as not to confuse the analysis algorithm – if you record multiple events over a few hours, each with a different intensity for the same symptom, the analysis algorithm will assume the events aren't related to each other and will place too much significance on them, reducing the algorithm's performance.)

 

It is important to note that for the app to be effective, you must also add what you eat and drink even when you suffer no symptoms.

 

Additionally, to get the best results, you should aim to provide the ingredients of the meals you eat as it is typically individual ingredients that cause symptoms.

 

Before running the analysis, you can configure the time period over which to analyze depending upon your needs. For example, you can analyze 'ALL' of your diary, '6 MONTHS', '3 MONTHS', or a specified date 'RANGE'. Additionally, for each symptom, you can configure a number of analysis parameters. (See the section 'Results' below)

 

The number of diary entries required for the analysis to provide useful results varies greatly as the analysis performance is dependent upon a number of factors – including; how varied your diet is (the more varied the better), how often you experience symptoms (the less frequent the better as symptom-free periods reveal important information), and whether the information in your diary sufficiently describes the factors that affect your symptoms.

 

Once you've run the analysis for a symptom, a 'Top Suspects' results table will be displayed. The table is ordered, starting with the highest scoring item at the top. You can find out more information about the score of an individual item by tapping on it to open the 'Result Detail' screen. (For more information about the results detail see the section 'Results' below.)

 

In addition to adding foods when adding diary events, you can also add, delete and modify existing foods, drinks, medications, etc., using the 'Organizer'. Simple search under the appropriate category, and then add, delete and modify as required. Any modifications will be reflected in all events in your diary.

 

Finally, the 'More' tab provides features including generating a PDF of your diary for sharing with you doctor/dietician, user management (multiple-users and passwords), backup, tips and tricks, and our contact details for reporting issues or providing enhancement suggestions. Options for resetting your diary are also provided.

 

Diary

The Diary tab provides you with a day-view calendar and a means of recording events (e.g. a meal) and outcomes (e.g. symptoms).

 

Navigating and Viewing Your Diary

You can navigate your diary a day at a time using the back and forward arrows on either side of the date. Alternatively, you can use left and right swipe actions across the screen.

 

 

The iPad version also provides a calendar that allows you to select a specific date. Simply tap on the diary date to open it.

 

Additionally, if you simply wish to return to today, tap the 'today' button on the navigation bar.

 

Adding a Diary Event

To add a new diary event, simply tap the large + button on the tab bar. You will then be prompted with a list of Events and Outcomes.

 

 

Events

On selecting an event you will be presented with a screen consisting of the date/time, type, and contents of the event. Additionally, notes can be added to each event.

 

 

The time of the event will default to the time of the most recent event of the same type – e.g. Lunch on Monday at 12:20, Lunch on Tuesday defaults to 12:20. This aids the quick entry of events, but you can override the time by simply tapping it to edit.

 

On tapping 'Add content'' a search bar will appear and you will be presented with a list of most frequent items selected for this event type – i.e. 'favourites'. On typing characters in the search bar you will be presented with a list of matching items. You can then add items to the event simply by tapping on them. (Note: if you can't find something, you can add new items from the search screen in a similar way to that described in the 'Organizer' section.)

 

If the event type is food, you will also be provided with search filters – for 'All', 'Meals', or 'Items'. These can be used to aid your search by filtering the search results further.

 

Once you have added items to the contents of an event, in create or edit mode, you can remove them by tapping on the 'no entry' sign, or by a swipe gesture, followed by the delete button corresponding to the selected item.

 

You can also change the event type, date/time, and notes by tapping on them.

 

Outcomes

On selecting 'symptoms' you will be presented with a screen consisting of the date, a list of symptoms each with an intensity slider, the duration of the symptom(s), and a freeform notes section.

 

 

Simply record the intensity for one or more symptoms by setting the appropriate intensity sliders. You can also record the duration of the symptom and provide notes for when you create a PDF report of your diary contents. (Duration and notes are not used by the analysis tool.)

 

Adding Your Own Symptoms

Additionally, you can add your own symptoms by tapping 'Organize symptoms''. This provides you with the current list of symptoms that you can change or add to using 'Add new symptom''. You can also delete a symptom by selecting the 'no-entry sign' followed by the delete button. Please note that this removes all occurrences of the symptom throughout your diary.

 

Energy and Sleep Quality are very similar to 'symptoms' but only provide a single intensity slider. Bowel movement provides the Bristol Scale for tracking bowel movements.

 

Viewing, Editing, and Deleting a Diary Event

To view a diary event, simply tap on it from the diary screen.

 

Once viewing a diary event you can tap 'Edit' to modify the event. A 'Delete Event' button is shown at the bottom – this can be used to delete the event from your diary.

 

Adding New Items

New foods, ingredients, exercises, drinks, supplements, medication, environmental factors, and 'other' can also be created 'on-the-fly' whilst using the diary.

 

When adding items to an event, if the search doesn't provide a match, you can simply tap 'Add item' (or 'Add meal', as appropriate) to add a new item in the same manner as in the Organizer.

 

Results

Outcomes Experienced

The first screen in the results tab will show you the list of outcomes experienced (those recorded in your diary). This list is shown in descending order, with the outcome with the most occurrences at the top and the least at the bottom.

 

The length of the bars provides a visualization of the number of occurrences within the date range for each outcome.

 

 

DATE RANGE

You can select the date range of the analysis from the filter bar or by tapping the 'Configure' button on the menu bar.

 

Select a symptom by tapping it. This will then open the 'Top Suspects' screen.

 

Top Suspects

Top suspects provides a list of items in your diary that are suspected of being associated with the outcome you've selected for analysis. The suspects are shown in descending order, with the top suspect shown at the top of the list and the lowest scoring suspect at the bottom.

 

 

The filter button at the top left of the screen allows you to toggle any filtered items on/off in the results list. The SCORES / RATIO buttons show two different lists - the SCORES list shows the top suspects ordered by score (as calculated by our algorithm), whilst the RATIO list shows the top suspects ordered by 'suspect ratio' (i.e. how often an item appears as a suspect vs non-suspect).

 

The orange bar represents the score of the item relative to the other items. The green bar represents the confidence of the result.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Just because an item is in the Top Suspects list doesn't mean that it's a cause of your symptom/outcome. The algorithm used by the app can't identify cause - only correlation. Therefore, sometimes coincidence means that items not associated with a symptom/outcome appear in the list.

 

The top suspects are calculated each time you select a different outcome from the proceeding 'Outcomes Experienced' screen. You can also force an update/refresh of the results by tapping the 'Analyze' button.

 

You can configure certain parameters of the analysis for the selected outcome by tapping the 'Configure' button on the menu bar (see below for more details).

 

Select a suspect item by tapping it. This will then open the 'Result Detail' screen.

 

Configure Analysis

By default the analysis algorithm uses the intensity setting of each outcome/symptom in an event when calculating the results. This can be turned off by flipping the 'Use Symptom Intensity' switch to 'OFF'.

 

You can also set the 'Analysis Window' anywhere between 1 hour and 72 hours. Each time an outcome/symptom occurs in your diary, the algorithm will look at all events that fall within the preceding 'Analysis Window' period. The default is 24 hours.

 

Finally, you can set the intensity threshold at which the analysis includes an outcome/symptom event with an intensity greater than or equal to, or less than or equal to the value chosen.

 

Result Detail

The result detail screen consists of three panels that can be scrolled from top to bottom. The panels include:

 

 

1. SUMMARY RESULTS

 

Score: The overall score relative to all other items in your diary. The higher the score, the stronger the correlation between the item and outcome. Please note: correlation doesn not mean cause - sometimes coincidence results in tems that don't cause outcomes attaining a high score.

 

Confidence: Represents the confidence of the result based upon the number of events the item occurs in.

 

Suspect Ratio: The ratio of suspect events to clear events. A suspect event is an event containing the item and that falls within the 'Analysis Window' time period prior to the selected outcome.

 

Outcomes/Symptoms Appear: The average time delay between events containing the item and the outcome/symptom occuring.

 

The filter button shown at the top left allows you to hide the item from the 'Top Suspects' list (when the filter button on the list is also ON). Filtering is useful if you wish to ignore the item as part of your analysis. (e.g. if you're 100% sure it's not a cause)

 

2. OUTCOME/SYMPTOM ONSET DELAY

 

This chart shows how often a given outcome/symptom occurs for each period of onset delay after a given item (e.g. food).

 

For example, the symptom 'Stomach Pain' might occur 5 times within 1 hour after eating a food containing cow's milk; 4 times within 2 hours, etc.

 

Sometimes a clear 'peak' can be seen, possibly indicating a significant result / possible sensitivity.

 

3. OUTCOME/SYMPTOM & ITEM TRENDS

 

This trends chart shows how often both the given outcome/symptom and the item occur over a period of weeks or months. The closer the two lines, the stronger the correlation.

 

Events

The events screen provides a list of all events associated with the selected item and outcome/symptom. The list can be filtered to show:

 

Tap on an event to open it in your diary.

 

Organizer

The organizer provides a means of creating, modifying, and deleting drinks, foods, medications, supplements, exercises, environmental factors, and 'other' items.

 

Symptoms can also be created, modified and deleted using the organizer.

 

Any changes made to existing items will be reflected throughout your diary.

 

Search

The search bar is used to find items belonging to the selected category. On typing characters in the search bar you will be presented with a list of matching items. You can then view an item by tapping on it.

 

Alternatively, if the item doesn't exist, you can create it by tapping 'Add'.

 

Create New Items or Recipe

To create a new item, recipe, or variant, select the required category and then tap the 'Add' button. You will then be presented with an 'Item Detail' screen showing the name of the item, it's category, and whether it is a recipe.

 

You can add ingredients (contents) to the item by tapping 'Add content'' and using the search bar in the same manner as for adding contents to an event. You can also remove existing ingredients as required.

 

You can also modify the name of the item and whether or not it's a recipe simply by tapping on the appropriate row.

 

View, Edit, and Delete Items or Recipe

Use the search bar to find an existing item or recipe. To view it simply tap on it.

 

You can then modify the item/recipe by tapping on the 'Edit' button.

 

You can also delete the item/recipe by tapping the 'Delete' button and confirming that you wish to delete the item/recipe - please note this will remove the item/recipe from all diary entries.

 

Creating Variants

Variant items or recipes provide a simple means of creating copies of an existing item or recipe that can then be modified to include different ingredients (contents).

 

For example, you may wish to create two variants of the same recipe – a homemade variant and a restaurant variant – as each recipe is likely to contain different ingredients.

 

More

 

Users

The App provides support for multiple user diaries - so different members of the family can have their own diary and analysis. The 'Users' screen shows the list of existing users.

 

Create New User

A new user can be created by tapping the 'Add' button. You will then be prompted for a unique username before you can create the user by tapping 'Done'.

 

View and Edit User Details

To view an existing user's details, tap on the required username on the 'Users' screen.

 

On viewing an existing user's details, you can edit them by tapping 'Edit'.

 

On editing an existing user's details, you can delete the user by tapping the 'Delete User' button. You will be prompted repeatedly for confirmation before the user, along with all of their diary entries are removed. Please note that this operation cannot be reversed.

 

Set Login Security & Password

To set password protection for the user, flip the 'Login Security' switch to 'ON' and enter a password using the 'Set Password' button. You will be prompted to enter your existing password (if any) and then your new password, followed by confirmation of your new password.

 

Diary Backup

In addition to synchronizing with iTunes on your Mac or PC, you can also backup your diary sending yourself a copy by email.

 

Tap 'Diary Backup' and send yourself an email with the diary backup file attached.

 

You can then import the backup by selecting the file attachment in your email. The App will prompt you to confirm the operation as it is irreversible – all changes made to your diary between taking the backup and importing it will be lost.

 

Additionally, please note that you should restart the application after the import completes. (The app may close automatically)

 

Diary Report

To create a PDF report of your diary, tap 'Diary Report' and send yourself (or doctor / dietician) an email with the diary report attached.

 

You can choose to restrict your PDF report to pre-defined time periods such as 'All', 'Past Month', 'Past Week', or a specific date range.

 

Reset Diary Events

To reset all diary events, including recorded symptoms, tap 'Reset Diary Events' and follow the prompts.

 

Please note that this operation is irreversible.

 

Reset All

To reset all diary events, recorded symptoms, users, and all user specific items such as foods, ingredients, exercises, etc. – returning the App to its original and default settings, tap 'Reset All' and follow the prompts.

 

Please note that this operation is irreversible – all data will be reset.

 

Report an Issue

To report an issue simply tap 'Report an Issue'. This will create an email with details of your device and iOS version. Please provide details of the issue you are experiencing and then send the email to the pre-populated support address.

 

We will make every effort to respond to your issues as quickly as possible.

 

Suggest Enhancements

To suggest enhancements to the App, tap 'Suggest Enhancements'. This will create an email with a pre-populated address to send your suggestions to. All suggestions are reviewed and considered for inclusion in future updates of the App. Thank you.

 

Tips & Tricks

For further details of how to use the app, please follow the link provided by tapping 'Tips & Tricks'.