Dealing with flu season: 3 smartphone apps that can help

While it can vary across the world, flu season in the U.S. stretches across the cool and cold weather months, roughly from October until May, an article from Fast Med Urgent Care reported. The southern hemisphere, on the other hand, experiences flu season from May to September, a period of time which encompasses their fall, winter and spring. In the U.S., most cases of flu occur in deep winter, between December and February, the source noted.

Flu shots are recommended to reduce the risk of contracting influenza and for the unlucky individuals who do contract the virus, bed rest and fluids are often prescribed. In the digital age, however, there is now another tool that individuals can employ to reduce their likelihood of contracting the flu, and also to help them through the illness in the unfortunate event that they do become sick - smartphone apps. Curious? This article takes a closer look at some of the best smartphone apps for navigating flu season.

Information about the flu
Before an examination of some of the best flu apps available, it is helpful to take a closer look at the influenza virus. As detailed by the Mayo Clinic, influenza produces symptoms throughout the respiratory system. The term "stomach flu" is widely used to refer to symptoms of the digestive system - vomiting and diarrhea, for example - but it should be stressed that such symptoms are not produced by influenza, which only engenders symptoms in the nose, throat and lungs. 

For most people influenza is an incredibly unpleasant illness, but it isn't life threatening. For certain populations, however, the flu can pose a severe threat, and death can be possible. Those who are most at risk of extreme complications include older adults above age 65, very young children from newborns to age five, those with compromised or weakened immune systems, those with other chronic conditions and pregnant women, the source explained. While a flu shot is advised for all individuals, it is especially important for people in these vulnerable populations to receive a vaccination before the flu season begins in the fall. 

Major symptoms of the flu include headache, high fever, chills, sore throat, nasal congestion, sweats and extreme fatigue. In most cases the flu is treated with over the counter remedies and bed rest. In some instances doctors may prescribe antiviral medications. In severe cases hospitalization may be required.

Apps that can make a difference
Some of the best apps for avoiding and dealing with the flu include:

1. FluView
Designed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and free to use for both iPhone and Android, FluView is a helpful tool which provides users with up to date information on flu outbreaks nationwide, Everyday Health explained. The platform has a range of maps, all of which are color coded, to represent the extent and severity of flu break outs, at the state and national level. Additionally FluView serves as an educational resource - there are a range of podcasts and videos, dedicated to educating users about the impact and dangers of influenza.

2. Doctor On Demand
For users who think they may have the flu but are too sick to leave home for an official diagnosis, an app called Doctor on Demand can be a real help. As explained by Parenting, this platform facilitates telemedicine consultations with certified physicians. This is achieved via video conferencing. Safe, secure, cheap and incredibly convenient, Doctor on Demand is a great way for individuals to get professional advice and peace of mind. The app is free to download for both iPhone and Android, with the consultations themselves costing $40.

3. Flu Defender
Another platform designed to educate, Flu Defender provides users with comprehensive information about all things flu, Greatist detailed. Much like with the CDC's FluView, individuals can employ Flu Defender to get a heads up about the severity of flu outbreaks near their homes and throughout their state. There are also resources such as a symptom checker and even an interactive feature that can tell users their risk level and whether or not a shot is really necessary. Available exclusively for the iPhone, Flu Defender is free to download.

Kevin McCarthy's picture

Kevin McCarthy

Industry News Editor

An avid traveler and news junkie, Kevin covers a range of topics from healthcare technology to policy and regulations. As a former journalism student, he enjoys finding stories relevant to small practices and is passionate about keeping them informed. Before joining NueMD, Kevin worked for Turner Broadcasting as a Programming Intern where he conducted legal research and contributed to editorial content development. He received his bachelor's degree in Communication from Kennesaw State University and currently serves as the Industry News Editor at NueMD.

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