If it seems more of your friends, colleagues and neighbors have come down with the flu this year than usual, you're probably right. Federal officials say this year's flu season is more severe than any other since 2009. The number of people suffering from influenza this year is still on the rise, as is the number of people who are so badly ill that they need hospitalization.
Tens of thousands of people die from influenza every year, and millions experience its debilitating symptoms. It's especially dangerous for elderly people. Statistics say up to 85 percent of deaths from seasonal flu happen in people over 65.
If you've managed to avoid getting sick with it this year, that's good news. Or, maybe you caught the flu recently and want to get over it as fast as possible. In either case, there are numerous handy gadgets to help you stay well or have a speedy recovery.
Think back to when you were sick as a child — there's a good chance you can remember your parents taking your temperature frequently. That's because your body temperature is one of the best indicators that you're becoming ill or the medication you've taken is working.
The Kinsa Smart Thermometer not only takes your temperature, but also uses a complementary app to make recommendations that should bring a fever down. It also suggests when to call a doctor and even gives updates about which illnesses are currently most dominant in your area. ($14.99-$49.99)
Health experts say one of the most effective ways to fight illnesses — including the flu — is to wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. This automatic soap dispenser saves you from having to touch a soap bottle after someone in your household came in contact with it while fighting influenza. It also works with hand sanitizer and has a cylindrical design that sits on a countertop. ($30)
Doctors know being under too much stress decreases your immune system's effectiveness, which could make you more likely to catch colds and the flu. Think of the Pip as a proactive device to reduce your likelihood of getting sick due to too much stress.
After measuring changes in your electrodermal activity through the pores on your fingertips, it uses a complementing app to show you the changes in your stress levels — and helps you relax when needed. It also uploads your data to an interface, so you can see your success at conquering stress over time. ($179)
Staying hydrated is an important element of both preventing the flu and recovering as fast as possible after getting sick. Water keeps your nasal passages moist, so they help trap germs before they spread.
The Hidrate Spark is an intelligent water bottle that lights up to remind you to take a drink. An internal sensor automatically detects how much fluid you consume, and you can track progress on an accompanying app. ($54.95)
Many flu sufferers deal with intense body aches that make them feel like they've just tackled extremely hard gym workouts, even though they've only been lying in bed. This soreness-easing heating pad offers either moist or dry heat and provides a sliding control with three temperature-selection settings. Also, the nine-foot power cord makes it easy to use the product almost anywhere in your home. (approximately $15 and up)
A small study indicates data from wearable gadgets could potentially let you know when you're getting sick. That's because the wearables collect data over time, and during a visit to your doctor, the physician only captures statistics from a few moments — when the readings might be inaccurate due to nervousness.
Three of the factors the study tracked were sleep patterns, blood oxygen levels and heart rate. The Withings Pulse Ox Tracker measures all those things and more. It syncs with your smartphone and allows you to look back at up to 10 days of data.
By having that information at your fingertips, it may be possible to notice changes that indicate you're coming down with the flu, allowing you to take preventive measures to minimize the effects.
Whether you're sick or the flu has taken down someone else in your household, it's crucial to limit transfer of germs through contaminated items. This gadget is small enough to fit in a purse and uses a special type of ultraviolet light to sanitize things like computer keyboards, stereos or mobile phones. ($69.95)
Fighting the flu isn't fun. However, these gadgets could help prevent you from getting sick or speed up your recovery.
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