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Advancements in IBD Treatment : Wearables & Oxygen Chambers for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis

Innovative Approaches in Enhancing Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), encompassing conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, affects over three million individuals in the United States.(1) It is characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Conventionally, treatments have included medications and lifestyle modifications to manage symptoms and reduce inflammation.(2)

Recent studies presented at the 2023 Crohn’s and Colitis Congress shed light on several new and promising advancements in IBD management.(3) Wearable devices and oxygen chambers are among the innovative tools that could soon become integral in treatment. Though these studies are yet to undergo peer review, medical experts are optimistic about their potential impact. Experts are now anticipating a transformative shift in IBD treatment approaches over the next decade, reflecting the exciting developments in the field. Read on to find out more about these innovate approaches – from oxygen chambers and apple watches that can enhance the treatment for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.

Can Wearable Devices Help in the Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Wearable devices have shown promise in aiding the management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). These devices can provide valuable data on various physiological parameters, including activity levels, heart rate, and sleep patterns, which can offer insights into a patient’s overall well-being. By continuously monitoring these metrics, healthcare providers can better understand how IBD impacts an individual’s daily life and make more informed treatment decisions.

Additionally, wearable devices can empower patients to take an active role in managing their condition by tracking their own progress and making necessary adjustments to their lifestyle and treatment plan. While further research is needed to fully assess the effectiveness of wearable devices in IBD management, initial studies suggest they have the potential to be a valuable tool in improving the lives of individuals living with this condition.

At the annual meeting of the 2023 Crohn’s and Colitis Congress, researchers delved into the potential of utilizing wearable devices like Apple watches in the management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). They highlighted that these devices can capture markers of nervous system function, which might play a crucial role in detecting an impending IBD flare-up.(4)

Traditionally, monitoring IBD has relied on methods like symptom reporting or one-time assessments of various biological markers, which can be both inconvenient and invasive. Wearable technology, however, offers a breakthrough by enabling the continuous, non-invasive tracking of physiological metrics, including heart rate variability – a measure of subtle time differences between heartbeats, indicative of autonomic nervous system function.

The researchers emphasized on their prior findings, demonstrating that alterations in autonomic function precede an IBD flare-up, anticipate shifts in psychological states, and even identify inflammatory events like SARS-CoV-2 infection. This initial analysis underscores the feasibility of leveraging wearable devices to not only recognize but potentially predict impending IBD flares, presenting a promising avenue for more effective disease management.

Is it Possible to Predict Inflammatory Bowel Disease Flare-ups?

Recent research suggests that it may be possible to predict Inflammatory Bowel Disease flare-ups. Studies have shown that changes in autonomic nervous system function, which can be measured using wearable devices like Apple watches, may precede an IBD flare. By monitoring physiological metrics such as heart rate variability, researchers have observed patterns that indicate the likelihood of an impending flare. This breakthrough in utilizing wearable technology for continuous, non-invasive assessment offers a promising avenue for more proactive IBD management.

While further research and validation are needed, these early findings suggest a potential shift towards predictive approaches in managing IBD, which could significantly improve the quality of life for individuals living with this condition.

It is important to remember, though, that predicting when an IBD flare-up might happen can be tricky, as symptoms vary from person to person, but experts believe that wearable devices could play a crucial role in detecting flares early. Previous studies have linked stress and heart rate variability to increased disease activity, making continuous heart rate monitoring a plausible tool for spotting flares early. This could help treatment teams intervene promptly, preventing the flare from getting worse.(5)

On the other hand, there is a question facing experts on whether a wearable device can actually accurately detect subtle changes associated with a flare. While there are changes happening just before a flare-up, but detecting them with precision might still be a challenge. This is because distinguishing between normal health and early signs of disease is not always straightforward.

How Feasible is Oxygen Therapy for Management of Crohn’s Disease?

Oxygen therapy is not considered a primary treatment for Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the digestive tract, and its treatment typically involves a combination of medications, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, surgery. Medications may include anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and biologic therapies.(6,7)

However, researchers at the annual meeting also discussed the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a potential treatment for Crohn’s disease. This therapy involves delivering 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which can increase oxygen levels in tissues and help regulate inflammatory processes.(8)

In cases of Crohn’s disease where fistulas (abnormal passages) develop due to inflammation, hyperbaric oxygen therapy showed promise. Fistulas can form between parts of the intestine or between the intestine and nearby organs, like the bladder or vagina. The study found a high clinical response rate to this therapy, which is encouraging for potential future treatments.

While biologic therapies have been beneficial in treating fistulizing Crohn’s, hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be a valuable addition, especially for cases where traditional treatments may not be entirely effective. This therapy could potentially become a more widely used approach if it gains further support and becomes a standard part of Crohn’s disease guidelines.(9)

It is important for individuals with Crohn’s disease to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their specific needs and symptoms. This plan may include a combination of medications, dietary changes, stress management techniques, and other interventions aimed at managing the condition and improving quality of life.

What Does the Future hold for Wearable Devices in the Management of IBD?

The future for wearable devices in the management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) looks promising. As technology continues to advance, these devices are likely to become more sophisticated, offering even more accurate and detailed data on various physiological parameters. This could include not only heart rate variability but also other relevant metrics such as activity levels, sleep patterns, and stress indicators.

Moreover, with ongoing research and development, wearable devices may incorporate additional sensors and functionalities specifically tailored to IBD management. For instance, they might measure inflammation markers or track dietary and lifestyle factors that influence IBD symptoms.

As wearable technology becomes more integrated into healthcare, it is likely that these devices will play an increasingly significant role in the comprehensive care and management of individuals with IBD. They have the potential to provide valuable insights, facilitate early intervention, and ultimately improve the overall quality of life for those living with this chronic condition.


The integration of innovative technologies like oxygen chambers and wearable devices, such as Apple Watches, marks a significant advancement in the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) encompassing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Studies presented at the 2023 Crohn’s and Colitis Congress highlight the potential benefits of these approaches. Oxygen therapy in hyperbaric chambers shows promise in addressing refractory cases of fistulizing Crohn’s disease, offering a new avenue for treatment. Additionally, wearable devices like Apple Watches hold potential for early detection of IBD flares through continuous monitoring of physiological metrics.

While further research and validation are needed, these developments offer hope for improved IBD management, potentially transforming the lives of millions affected by these conditions. The future holds great promise for the integration of technology in the ongoing battle against IBD, ushering in a new era of personalized and proactive care.


  1. www.cdc.gov. (2022). People with IBD Have More Chronic Diseases | CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/features/IBD-more-chronic-diseases.html.
  2. Baumgart, D.C. and Carding, S.R., 2007. Inflammatory bowel disease: cause and immunobiology. The Lancet, 369(9573), pp.1627-1640.
  3. Crohns Colitis Congress. (n.d.). Crohn’s & Colitis Congress® Transforming IBD Care. [online] Available at: https://crohnscolitiscongress.org/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2023].
  4. Rowan, C. and Hirten, R., 2022. The future of telemedicine and wearable technology in IBD. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, 38(4), pp.373-381.
  5. Baldwin, A.L., 2018. Case report: control of heart rate variability to cope with stress and pain after colectomy. Biofeedback, 46(3), pp.60-64.
  6. Baumgart, D.C. and Sandborn, W.J., 2012. Crohn’s disease. The Lancet, 380(9853), pp.1590-1605.
  7. Torres, J., Mehandru, S., Colombel, J.F. and Peyrin-Biroulet, L., 2017. Crohn’s disease. The Lancet, 389(10080), pp.1741-1755.
  8. Iezzi, L.E., Feitosa, M.R., Medeiros, B.A., Aquino, J.C., Almeida, A.L.N.R.D., Parra, R.S., Rocha, J.J.R.D. and Féres, O., 2011. Crohn’s disease and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Acta Cirúrgica Brasileira, 26, pp.129-132.
  9. Samaan, M., Campbell, S., Cunningham, G., Tamilarasan, A.G., Irving, P.M. and McCartney, S., 2019. Biologic therapies for Crohn’s disease: optimising the old and maximising the new. F1000Research, 8.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 12, 2023

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