As we speak, the flu is marauding across America like the deadly virus in Stephen King’s The Stand. That’s not intended to sound alarmist, it’s just the truth: influenza is currently widespread in more than 40 states.
There are time-tested ways of fending off infections, like washing your hands regularly, but in addition the vaccine and other time-tested prevention measures, why not try some newfangled approaches? These ten tech-savvy approaches could be just what the doctor ordered:
CVS Caremark: If you get bit by the flu bug, there’s not much you can do besides getting rest and drinking clear fluids. But there are anti-viral medications that can help, especially if you’re particularly susceptible to getting sick, like the elderly. The free CVS Caremark iPhone app has a great drug interaction database that will make sure any these medications won’t conflict with any of your regular prescriptions, either by counteracting them or causing more serious complications.
CDC FluView: If you want the official take on the flu’s spread, look no further than the good doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Beyond being major players in every zombie apocalypse movie in recent memory, the government agency protects the U.S. from health and safety threats — and causing 56 pediatric deaths so far this season, you can bet the flu is one such peril. Their free iPhone app lets users follow the previous weeks’ flu trends and look at activity levels across the country, basing its data on outpatient visits across all 50 states.
CDC Influenza: If you’re the type who likes to curl up on the couch in alternating fits of shivering and sweating with a deeply informative database of illness information, this is the app for you. Pulling from the CDC’s vast cache of expertise, this free iPhone app is geared towards clinicians and healthcare workers, but could help patients, too. A deep dive into the various strains, vaccines, and medications, it’s good information to have at the tip of your fingers — especially when you can’t get off the couch.
Google Flu Trends: If you thought Google existed to help you understand the world, you obviously don’t know anything about the impending robot uprising — Google is designed to study people! In this case, the search engine has been programmed to catalog flu-related search queries, tracking their spread on a map of the U.S. to reveal the sickest state. If you’re interested in a more historical perspective, surf over to Google Earth, where you can get a 3-D rendering of the outbreak that stretches back to 2009.
Flu Defender: From medication to information, presentation is everything, which is why the user-friendly format of this free iPhone app may be better suited for people looking for flu info. With clearly marked categories such as “Prevention Strategies” and “Symptom Identifier,” Flu Defender lets you cut to the chase and find actionable strategies for staying healthy. Or tap the “Flu Smart” button, and be fed a steady diet of flu facts. Here’s a fun one: “The influenza virus can live for 2–8 hours on surfaces.” You know, like the chair you’re sitting in at a coffee shop right now, or on your smartphone, after you pick it up off the table.
Everyday Health: Influenza is highly contagious, but to know if you’re really in danger of getting it, you’re best off with local information. The Everyday Health Flu Map website calculates its data on the county level, taking into account not only the CDC’s data, but also social media and online search information, and weather patterns. The result is a quick peek at the current, previous, and next week’s flu likelihod, as well as what to do to keep your susceptibility low, like hitting a local spot for a flu shot.
Sickweather: Billing itself as “the world’s first Doppler radar for sickness,” this free iPhone app uses heat mapping to show where the flu biggest hotspots are. A five-day simulated radar shows an animation of how the illness has recently spread, giving you an idea of how the area’s general health has progressed over the past week. And with maps for respiratory (like the flu), gastrointestinal, environmental, and childhood illnesses, this app is for more than just influenza. With programmable alerts, it’s something you should keep in your phone all year round.
Urgent Care 24/7 Medical Help: It seems like 95% of the time you need your doctor when you’re ill, it’s outside of doctor’s hours. This app will set you up with medical professionals on demand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to discuss symptoms and treatment. Just send a request through the app, and a doctor or nurse will call you back in around 15 minutes. That sure beats heading to the local clinic.
Zoc Doc: Sometimes, no matter how many heating pads or cold compresses you apply, nothing will do but a doctor’s care. Zoc Doc is a web-based service that connects patients with local area physicians, booking the appointments through the app, and even letting you set up your insurance information to make the end billing as easy as can be. If you’re crunched for time, you can search by availability, or if you’re looking for certain specialties, you can explore their full profile, complete with reviews. Find the right one, and you’ll be on the road to recovery in no time.
Cue: Not ready for the current flu season (but then again, neither was the flu shot), this futuristic lab in a box could have a big impact on how illnesses are diagnosed as early as next year. The idea is that users would dip a test stick into their mouth, and then insert it into a Bluetooth-connected gadget that interfaces with an app. By tracking the body on a daily basis, Cue can then determine many things about your current state, like if you’re lacking in vitamins, are high or lacking in testosterone, or are ill, for example. The device, which is rumored to sell for $199, has been backed by early Uber investors, Obama election staffers, and even Leonardo DiCaprio.