Smartphone apps for health, medical issues


"I use a handful of apps on my phone to help me lose baby weight, to keep track of my health, along with my baby's," Cooper said.

Cooper's smartphone is a stand-in for a stethoscope. Right now, there are about 13,000 apps geared toward health and more are added each day.

"There's an additional 5,000 to 6,000 apps for physicians, nurses, medical students, medical professionals," said Brian Dolan of

Many of the apps talk with your tools, so to speak, such as a Wi-Fi-enabled scale for your home.

"It actually sends your weight, your body mass index, as well as your body fat percentage," Dolan said.

One glucose meter plus into your iPhone and the results are organized in a chart.

"It's very easy for you to then send those charts to your care provider, your family, friends, and others that are helping you manage your condition," Dolan said.

The range of apps is wide, from some to monitor your blood pressure to others that you can use to send pictures of moles and freckles if you fear skin cancer.

The FDA is working now on guidelines that will regulate certain apps, just as it does medical devices. Meantime, the FTC keeps an eye on the claims being made.

"Last year the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, actually removed a handful of apps from Apple's app store that claimed to help users cure their acne just by shining a blue light on their face using the iPhone screen."

A word of caution: with this many apps, you will find some much better than others. You should start your search with trusted sources similar to those you'd refer to on the Web if you are considering adding an app to your healthcare regime. Also, discuss the apps with your doctor or caregiver when dealing with life-threatening or chronic illnesses.

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