Caring for Autoimmunity & Long COVID with a Personalized Approach
July 5, 2023
There is no one-size-fits-all diet or lifestyle to improve autoimmune disease symptoms for all patients. What works for one person may trigger worse symptoms in another, even if they share a diagnosis. Because of this, personalized interventions are being explored to help patients find what works for them in a safe and efficient way.
The company Mymee recently published a study on their personalized digital care program for patients with autoimmune diseases and long Covid. The study included 202 people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, long Covid, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, SLE, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
The app-based program includes three elements: personalized symptom and potential trigger tracking, data visualization, and weekly health coaching to help patients identify triggers and make lifestyle and dietary modifications to improve their symptoms. Coaches and symptom tracking allowed patients to identify triggers unique to them. This included poor sleep quality, specific foods, supplements, and medications as well as various combinations that triggered symptoms. Recommendations were made to help participants manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. This coaching did not take the place of routine management of participants’ diseases; patients remained in the care of their medical team and any medication changes were done through them.
Participants were surveyed at the beginning and end of the program to determine their health-related quality of “life score.” Researchers found that “>85% of patients with moderate to severe symptoms saw improvements in [health-related quality of life]” (1). The program was seen to decrease patient reports of anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain interference, sleep disturbance, and pain intensity while increasing cognitive and physical function and improving patients’ ability to engage in social activities and manage their symptoms. The greatest improvements were seen in patients who had the most symptoms at the baseline, but those with less severe symptoms also benefited.
The researchers identified over a hundred triggers – some that were common, others that were more unusual – including some foods and medications commonly thought to improve symptoms. This study highlights the diversity of autoimmunity and the promise of personalized medicine for those who do not fully respond to traditional medications and interventions.