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4 free apps to help navigate cold and flu season
Got a cold? Want to avoid the flu? There are apps for that. - photo by Chandra Johnson
Got a cold? Want to avoid the flu? There are apps for that.

Anyone armed with a smartphone can take the edge off cold and flu season this year with a handful of apps to help avoid areas where sickness is reported or, when the worst happens, finding the lowest-price prescriptions nearby.

1. Sickweather

Free for Apple and Android

Sickweather is a free app (Android and Apple) that allows users to self-report illness and map a variety of illnesses to see if a lot of people are sick nearby. It also tracks social media for reports of illness, with an algorithm that differentiates between "The Doc says I have bronchitis" vs. "I've got Bieber fever." Sickweather maps most common ailments from allergies to the common cold to whooping cough and alerts users when they're in an area with a high concentration of illness.

2. Flu Near You

Free for Apple and Android

Flu Near You is an app that focuses on tracking flu cases all over the U.S. The beauty is that unlike a lot of sickness mapping apps, Flu Near You is anonymous. Early detection is key in flu prevention, and the interactive map tracks nearby flu cases so users can take extra precautions like using extra hand sanitizer or even working from home.

Designed by epidemiologists at Harvard, Boston Children's Hospital and other health professionals, this app also looks to prevent widespread flu outbreaks by tracking the information the app collects.

3. Iodine

Free at the Apple store

For people who are feeling sick or have children, differentiating symptoms can be time-consuming, and health care costs often mean people wait until they're sure they're sick before visiting the doctor. Iodine can help with that. Iodine has a wide breadth of information on common illnesses as well as over-the-counter and prescription drugs for various ailments.

4. GoodRx

Free for Apple and Android

Unfortunately, some people will become sick every cold and flu season, sometimes needing prescriptions to help them fend off viruses. To get the most for their dollar, developers have come up with GoodRx, an app that finds the lowest price for prescriptions at nearby pharmacies.