Weird Medicine

Can Fitbit Devices Help Predict Flu Outbreaks?

According to statistical reports and studies, about 7 percent of working adults and 2 percent of children that are younger than the age of 5 years old get infected by the flu at an annual level. And the most recent flu season is a devastating one, taking hundreds of lives and starting unusually early. It’s also being hailed as the worst flu season in decades, and experts fear that the worst is yet to come.

As such, people of all ages are encouraged to get their annual flu shot if they haven’t yet because it’s the best defense we currently have against the epidemic. With that in mind, is there a way to detect flu before it even comes full swing?

That’s what a team of researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, were aiming for in their recently published study concerning Fitbits and their apparent ability to detect illness.

Fitness Trackers To Predict Flu

Led by Dr. Steven Steinhubl, the project based the study on the fitbits’ ability to track the heart rates of its users, as well as other health metrics. Instead of using it to track health, however, the researchers related the data to the development of inflammatory conditions, such as influenza or flu.

Deriving its data from around 47,000 individuals across five states in the U.S. between the years 2016 and 2018, the team then analyzed the information they were able to gather. Furthermore, all individuals also met certain criteria, which includes the consistent use of their fitness trackers during the study period. Their sensor telemetry was also compared week for week with the estimates of influenza-like illnesses that are generated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From this, the researchers were able to discover that data provided by Fitbits are capable of predicting such diseases to its users. As such, the researchers believe these fitness trackers should be used to improve health monitoring across the country.

Fitbit The Fitbit is one of the most famous fitness tracker out there, however, it is as famous as it is expensive. Here's 14 of the best Fitbit alternatives on Amazon. StockSnap / Pixabay

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