An Irish start-up is working to tackle digestive problems by developing a pocket-sized gadget known as the AIRE breathalyser. It consists of a handheld device that can detect gases on your breath that is produced by bacteria in the digestive system, the results are then collected and measured overtime by using an accompanying smartphone app. Users will first provide a baseline breath reading before drinking a mixture of carbohydrates (fructose, lactose and sorbitol) to measure changes in the digestive track every 15 minutes over 3 hours.
The app then rates the level of digestive discomfort on a scale from 1 to 100, with changes indicating malabsorption. After the initial readings users can eat normally, and through a process of trial and error, they can create their personal digestive profile by tracking what they eat and how their levels of stress affect their digestive system. This will allow users to identify certain foods or ingredients to avoid.
This app and device are part of a wider trend to develop accessible technology that cangive people the power to measure and analyse their health. A 2012 study published in the journal Gastroenterology argued that inflammatory bowel diseases are a global problem but diagnosing what specific ingredients or food types causes these issues has traditionally been expensive, time-consuming and difficult to identify. According to Dr Brief, the co-founder, going to a doctor for a similar sort of test may cost around $500 per visit and will require multiple tests.
Recent work has also proposed that a healthy gut is extremely important for overall wellbeing as microbiome imbalances may lead to a range of issues health concerns from Alzheimer’s to autism.
This handheld gadget may offer a cheap and accessible solution that draws upon smartphone connectivity to help tackle an increasingly significant global problem.