Free Chronic Illness & Pain Management Journal to Help You Gain Control of Your Life Again

These days, symptom tracking is as simple as clicking a few buttons on an app and sharing the data. But which one is the best? And which one is free? Don’t worry – I’ve got your back. Here are my top recommendations that I know anyone with a chronic illness will love.

Table Of Contents 1What is a Digital Symptom Tracker?1.1Key Features to Look for in a Symptom Tracker App2How Do You Track Medical Symptoms?3My Top 7 Recommended Symptom Tracking Specific Apps3.1Symple3.2CareClinic3.3Health Storylines3.4Rank: The best free chronic illness tracker app3.5HealthTrak3.6Patients Like Me3.7Manage My Pain3.8Talli Symptom Tracker3.9 Endive

It makes me laugh to think back at how I used to track my health symptoms before smartphones came about.

Data capturing consisted of me:

  • Writing out my symptoms manually in a journal, and
  • Entering the data into an Excel spreadsheet to monitor my progress.

Don’t even get me started on the laborious process of including a photo in that day’s notes.

But tracking your symptoms is an essential part of managing your chronic illness – so I had to do it!

It helps track your overall progress and share relevant information with your healthcare providers.

Without it, it’s much harder to see what meds, treatments or lifestyle issues you may need to adjust and what course of action would be most appropriate.

But we’re on to bigger and better things these days, and I’m here to share it all with you.

What is a Digital Symptom Tracker?

A digital symptom tracker is an application you can use on your phone to monitor all the symptoms you experience because of your chronic illness(es) daily.

The difference between logging your symptoms manually and using a digital app is simple: efficacy and convenience.

A symptom tracking app should make it easy to:

  • List the medical conditions you have.
  • List the medication you take.
  • List the treatments you do.
  • List the symptoms you experience.
  • Explain where and how the symptoms presented themselves.
  • Evaluate how severe those symptoms were.
  • Consider what factors could have made those symptoms better or worse.
  • Consolidate this data into graphs, tables, and lists to monitor your progression over time.

Say goodbye to paperwork, spreadsheets and trying to scroll through the photos on your phone to find something you need to show your doctor at your next appointment – symptom tracker apps take care of it.

And if you’re wondering whether I am sponsored by some wellness app – I’m not! I genuinely believe symptom trackers make your life so much easier.

Key Features to Look for in a Symptom Tracker App

I’m going to share some of my favourite apps in just a moment – but before I do that, I want you to remember these five essential features any symptom tracker must have.

Reminders and Push Notifications

Life gets busy – I know it! And even if your life is not busy, chronic illness can make your brain fog unbearable – so logging your symptoms every day can be challenging to remember.

Any good app should give you the option to send friendly reminders at a particular time (when you know you’re likely to be free) so that you can reflect on the symptoms you’ve experienced that day.

On a side note – if brain fog is something you’re experiencing, then I highly recommend reading this before you start panicking: 11 Tips for Staying Organised with Brain Fog

Data protection

I cannot emphasise this enough – no matter what app you use, it MUST locally encrypt the data you share with it. This way, if your phone is stolen or hacked – no one can gain access to it without your permission first.

Data sharing options

Ensure that the app provides remote access to the data you’ve added. That way, you don’t need to have your phone on you to access your information. This becomes particularly important if your phone gets lost or you need to share your findings with your doctor. Ideally, you want an app that can collect your data and provide health reports and correlations.

Data collection versatility

Make sure the app can record the exact symptoms you’re interested in tracking. This is especially important if you have a rare or unique condition that needs a personalised management approach.

A Simple User Interface

It might be tricky – but don’t get caught up in the bells and whistles of an application. It might look pretty, but is it easy and practical to use?

Trust me ­– pretty apps get old very fast when all you want to do is log your health information so you can carry on with your day.

But you’re caught up engaging with content that doesn’t interest you or wastes your time.

A simple user interface also means clean and easy to read. Some apps that are not very well developed are also not good options because they often make it complex or confusing to log and recall the information you share.

How Do You Track Medical Symptoms?

The beauty of a digital chronic illness symptom tracker is that it guides you into tracking your medical symptoms systematically and cohesively. So you don’t have to worry that much about how you tackle the task.

But in general, it helps to understand why it’s so important to track your medical symptoms first.

The overall objective is to collect enough data to understand how your symptoms present in your body so you can treat (or manage) them in the best way possible.

The key is to remain consistent with the questions you’re asking and the frequency of answering them.

Here’s what you need to ask yourself:

  • What symptom am I experiencing right now? ­­(Write it down immediately, or you will forget.)
  • What time did it start, and how long did it last?
  • How strong is the symptom is, and where would I rate it from 1 – 10?
  • Has the symptom gotten worse or changed in any way? What seems to trigger the symptom and make it worse?
  • Is this symptom connected to any others I’m experiencing?
  • Are there any treatments I’m trying right now that are working?
  • Is there anything that’s affecting the symptom for the better? Lifestyle habits, diet, exercise, etc.

My Top 7 Recommended Symptom Tracking Specific Apps

If you’re looking for an app to help you manage your health overall, you might want to look at this article: Top 13 Best Apps for People with a Chronic Illness in 2022.

We don’t just look at symptoms there – we look at how you can manage your chronic illness using an entire digital ecosystem.

And how it greatly benefits you (the patient) because it helps your doctor find a personalised health plan for you.

We also talk about whether it’s worth splurging on a paid-for app or if you should just stick with a free option, and we uncover the truth about some of the most popular apps out there.

But for now – let’s get back to the my favourite symptom tracking apps 🙂

I’m going to share the best apps I’ve tried and tested. If it’s listed here – know that I believe it to be worthwhile using, even if it has a slightly lower score than the others.

I’ve also awarded some of these apps with an ultimate ranking. So if you’re looking for the best free app or even the best chronic pain symptom tracker – I cover it all.

Symple

Symple Symptom Tracker App

Rank: The best overall chronic illness symptom tracker and journal

Overall score: 9/10

What makes it unique: Like its name suggests – Symple is so simple and easy to use. It has one of my favourite user interfaces because it’s easy on the eye and quick to use. 

It’s not an app you need to spend hours on to log your symptoms.

Why I like it:

  • It lists symptoms in the beginning for you to choose. That way, when you’re asked to select which ones you suffer from, you’re far less likely to leave any out.
  • Links to your Apple Health to monitor daily habits like your sleep, body temperature and heart rate.
  • Allows you to send reports to your doctor and export your data to a .CSV. As part of the premium (paid for) subscription, you can also document your symptoms photographically and add journal entries.

Why I don’t like it: It’s hard to fault this app because it’s one of my favourites.

The only thing that could be challenging is if you haven’t bought into the smartphone and smartwatch system. Without it – you’ve immediately lost half the appeal. 

Cost: It has a basic free product with an option to upgrade for $8.99 per month.

You can monitor five symptoms and five factors that affect your wellbeing at no charge. You pay to increase the number of symptoms you track and access the additional features.

CareClinic

Care Clinic Symptom Tracker

Rank: The best holistic chronic illness symptom tracker

Overall score: 8/10

What makes it unique?CareClinic is a self-care app that lets you track and manage your symptoms holistically as part of your wellbeing plan. 

This means you simultaneously follow your medication, nutrition, fluids, fitness, symptoms, weight, and blood pressure.

Why I like it:

  • You can monitor things like the meds you take, if you’ve exercised, what you’ve eaten and how much you’ve slept – and use this information to get a better idea of how your lifestyle affects your symptoms.
  • You can share your data with various caretakers digitally by adding them straight to the app. That way, family members, nurses and doctors can be updated as you insert your daily evaluation.
  • The app has its very own health store, and I’m obsessed! You have access to multiple care plans that help you manage chronic issues – with anything ranging from weight, mood or condition management. Some courses have a small fee while others are free.

Why I don’t like it: Unfortunately, CareClinic is a paid for application. Although it does give you a 3-day trial, it does not have a free version for people to use.

Cost: $59.99 for a year or $11.40 per month 

Health Storylines

Health Storylines Symptom Tracker

Rank: The best free chronic illness tracker app

Overall score: 8/10

What makes it unique: Health Storylines has genuinely got the highest number of benefits for free out there.

Unlike most free apps that offer essential services – Health Storylines is a lot more useful as it helps you collect both qualitative and quantitative data over an extended period. 

What I like: 

  • It helps you create a circle of support with family members, friends, loved ones and medical professionals who can monitor your daily symptom evaluations. It’s an excellent way to avoid being asked, “how are you?” 
  • It’s got a relatively simple way to add different condition-specific symptoms. And it helps you document the exact severity, triggers and duration of each one.
  • You can sync it to several wearable fitness devices to help monitor your wellbeing symptoms.

What I don’t like: It doesn’t list an extensive range of chronic illnesses. So if you suffer from something more rare, it’s unlikely to cater to you.

Cost: Free

HealthTrak

Health Trak Symptom Tracker

Rank: The simplest health symptom tracker app to use

Overall score: 7/10

What makes it unique: This app is specifically designed to help you manage your symptoms alongside your medication.

Often, when you have to take a bunch of meds, your symptoms end up varying. This makes finding correlating issues between your meds and your symptoms easier.

What I like:

  • It’s an extremely simple app to use – so you don’t need to spend much time figuring out what to do. There are only four options too choose from. You can track your symptoms and medication or create to-do list notes and view your history.
  • You can get an overview of your symptoms in a timeline format, as a graph or as a list. You can also download all the information as a .CSV to keep for your journal.

What I don’t like: Your symptom tracking data is presented in a slightly cluttered and overwhelming way – especially if you’re managing many symptoms. It can be a bit difficult to follow.

Cost: Free

Patients Like Me

Patients Like Me Symptom Tracker

Rank: The best community-based chronic illness symptom tracker app

Overall score: 9/10

What makes it unique: Patients Like Me is a health information sharing app (and website) where you can use your health data to answer any questions you might have about your condition and the symptoms you experience. 

You can then connect with other people experiencing similar issues. 

What I like:

  • It’s easy to create a profile with helpful charts and timelines to watch the progress of your symptoms, medication and overall health over time. I’ve been using Patients Like Me since 2015, and I’ve found it highly effective.
  • You quickly find that you’re not alone – you can reach out to others and vice versa who are experiencing similar symptoms or issues with the same condition as you.
  • It can automate doctor’s visit reports by adding all the health data you’ve collected over a certain time. You can choose what information you’ve logged that you want to share.  

What I don’t like: The site and app are both hard to fault. I personally find the user journey easier on its website than the phone, but it still works well. 

Cost: Free 

Manage My Pain

manage-my-pain-app-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illness

Ranking: The best free chronic pain tracker app

Overall score: 9/10

What makes it unique: MMP is a fantastic app that you can use to manage all symptoms and issues you’re experiencing related to chronic pain.

You can also use it to document your conditions medications and then report on the severity of your pain when you want.

What I like:

  • It makes record-taking super easy. I like that all your data can be instantly downloaded into reports and used when you get to any of your doctor’s appointments.
  • You can go into a level of detail that most other apps don’t allow – it considers so many medical factors.
  • It lets you document what you’ve done to alleviate your symptoms and records whether the solution was helpful or not.

What I don’t like: I’m stumped! There’s nothing about this app that I don’t like, down to the cost. I highly recommend it if you suffer from chronic pain.

Cost: Free

Talli Symptom Tracker

Talli Symptom TrackerRank: The best symptom tracker app for common health conditionsOverall score: 7/10

What makes it unique: Talli let’s you add profiles for your loved ones on one device and track their wellbeing too. You can export and share your data with others. However, it’s presented in a basic format.

What I like about it:

  • It has a basic user interface that is easy to use. It’s also straightforward to load symptoms that you’re experiencing because it lists them all, and you can select the ones that are relevant to you.
  • If you’re monitoring a relatively basic set of issues, then it works well – it’s also completely free, unlike most other symptom trackers.
  • It gives you the option to take photographs and provide a comment with any symptoms you document – which is often a “paid for feature” in other apps.

What I don’t like about it: The simple user interface is also something I dislike about the app (yes, I know I’m contradicting myself). But I find it can be too simple.

The number of symptoms you can monitor is limited to what the app offers (approximately 30 symptoms).

So if you’re monitoring a relatively basic set of issues, then it works well – but if you need to track something like tremors due to neuropathic pain, you’re not going to be in luck.

Compared to what the other symptom trackers offer – it’s very minimal.

Cost: Free

Endive

endive-apps-for-people-with-a-chronic-illnessRank: The best symptom tracker app for gut-related chronic illnessesOverall score: 7/10

What makes it unique: Endive allows you to track what you eat and any symptoms or triggers you pick up on during that time (related to your gut and whole body). It then is compiled into a weekly report for you to look back over.

What I like:

  • Our gut and our bodies are so closely interlinked. Specialists are starting to understand the longstanding effects of inflammatory foods on chronic disease, and the results are staggering!What we eat can affect our chronic illnesses, and it’s worth knowing what triggers you and what doesn’t.
  • This app isn’t only for people with chronic illnesses related to the gut like Crohn’s or IBS – you can use it to track any number of symptoms you feel are diet related.

What I don’t like: If you only have gut-related issues, then this app is simple to follow.

However, if you have various conditions, you need to consider how each one affects your body in different ways and omit it from the app data.

For example, you may have eaten extremely well, but your pain is sky-high because you have fibromyalgia too, and the weather has been bad.

You need to decide whether to report on your pain levels or not – knowing they aren’t food-related.

Cost: Free with the option to upgrade to full access for $2.99 per month

I hope you give one of these apps a go and let me know if you feel your needs are met.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed learning about the best symptom trackers out there and let me know if you try them and like using any personally!

Happy downloading, everyone!

About the author, Marina

Marina Wildt is an experienced health and wellness writer, chronic illness warrior and founder of The Discerning You. In the last 12 years, she has gone from being paralysed in a wheelchair to living a full life alongside her conditions and now she wants to share all the practical advice that she has learnt with you.

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