Dr. Kim Foster: Wicked Health


How to Predict Your Next Cold or Flu

A Cutting Edge Tool That Can Help You Plan Ahead

How to Predict Your Next Cold or Flu

It's the middle of the night, you're awakened with the first telltale signs of a sore throat. You sneeze. And immediately experience a sinking feeling: you're getting a cold. And you know what it means. It'll only be a matter of time before everyone in your family goes down for the count, too.

You get up and scramble through cupboards for tissues, only to find one lone Kleenex tissue at the bottom of the box from last time viruses descended on your household. You open the medicine cabinet, hunting for the things you know can help, and find yourself down to your last vitamin C tablet, your last crumbled little zinc lozenge...this cold caught you totally off guard. Curses.

Perhaps worse, that thing you've been procrastinating about for the past several days (that errand, that presentation, that project)...well, it's not going to get done anytime soon, is it?

If only I'd known, you think...

Well, guess what? There's now a brand new, very cool tool that will help you do just that. Kleenex has developed a breakthrough online tool that will actually help you predict your family's chances of contracting a cold or the flu. Three weeks ahead of time.

When I first heard about this program, I was fascinated about the concept. Nobody had ever done anything like this before. Of course, I was also a little skeptical. I wondered how they could possibly predict such a thing.

But here's what I learned: this tool was developed by a global network of professors, top business leaders, and highly trained analysts. Here's the data they use for their forecasting model:

  • official CDC (Centers for Disease Control) flu statistics
  • weather patterns
  • online search queries
  • social media discussion
  • OTC drug sales in various categories
  • bird migration patterns
  • air travel patterns
  • vaccination rates, vaccination campaigns and major public events that could increase transmission rates

Impressive, no? (And, yes, you read that right: bird migration patterns, you guys. These people aren't messing around.)

The tool gives you an outlook for the next three weeks, with an average accuracy rate of more than 90 percent. Which means you will be well prepared for colds and flus before they hit your area.

To receive your cold and flu forecast for the next three weeks all you have to do is enter your postal code, including the space. Here's what my forecast looks like:

This means you can be ready right from day one. You can stock up on vitamins and Kleenex products and your favourite home remedies. You can also take steps to prevent the dreaded viruses from striking your household down, including getting the flu shot.   

The achoo by Kleenex website also has useful information to help you recognize the symptoms of a cold or the flu and then tips on what to do to get you through it as fast as possible, and back to normal.

When you and your kids get hit with a cold or the flu it wreaks havoc on your lives, doesn't it? Removing some of the uncertainty of cold and flu season, and avoiding the "day one scramble" is a good thing, in my book.