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High-tech help to manage cold and flu season at home

With sick season upon us, these 6 pieces of tech could help manage or monitor cold and flu symptoms

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These six pieces of tech can help you this sick season.


Tis the season for sniffles, coughs and fevers. Smart health devices can help Dr. Mom and Dr. Dad as they try to prevent and treat symptoms.

Some medical experts are concerned about a potential “tripledemic” in the United States, according to Yale Medicine. The combination of record levels of RSV, increasing flu cases and lingering COVID-19 means families will need to be prepared.

The SmartCheck Digital Ear Scope

The National Institutes of Health report ear infections are the most common reason parents take their kids to the doctor in the U.S. A startup called CellScope was figuring out how to turn a phone into an at-home otoscope, and Johnson & Johnson partnered with them a few years ago to make it happen. The SmartCheck Digital Ear Scope from Children’s Tylenol is an attachment for a smartphone that parents can use to help doctors check for ear infections remotely. 

The company explains on its website that the otoscope uses lighting and magnification to get a clear recording. The corresponding app has training videos, and Johnson & Johnson is hopeful the device could possibly save parents an in-person doctor’s visit. The otoscope only works with certain iPhones right now with Android capability to come. Parents can use the SmartCheck device on anyone at least 6 months old and can purchase it using a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account for $79.99 at major retailers.

Touch-free soap dispenser

A soap dispenser you don’t have to touch can be a more hygienic option for any sink. With no contact, the user isn’t likely to leave as many germs behind. The Simplehuman Touch-free rechargeable sensor soap dispenser comes with a clog-proof pump and a no-drip valve for less mess. And users can control how much soap comes out depending on how close you position your hand to the sensor. Users will need recharge the device about every three months. It retails at $69.99, although Amazon recently had it listed for more than $20 less.

Nosiboo Pro Baby Electric Nasal Aspirator

The days of using the blue plastic bulb to clean out mucus from little noses may be over with new electric versions available. “Babies less than 4 months old are obligate nose breathers, which means they are unable to coordinate breathing between their mouth and nose very well,” says Dr. Mona Patel, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Nosiboo developed its Pro Baby Electric Nasal Aspirator with help from pediatric ENT doctors and comes with seven levels of suction. And while parents may believe the strongest level of suction would always be best, Nosiboo points out on its website that you’ll need to consider the child’s age and thickness of mucus. It’s on Amazon for $159 and comes with a 12-month warranty.


Humidifiers add moisture to the air and can help break up mucus and relieve stuffy noses. Popular Mechanics’ 2021 Gear of the Year list said the one to buy is the Levoit VeSync Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier. It’s quiet and has a large tank that can run for 60 hours on the low mist setting. It comes with an aroma pad where you can add essential oils, a timer, night light and sleep mode.

The accompanying app allows users to control all settings, view real-time humidity levels and set schedules and timers for the humidifier. You can even control the $79.99 device with your voice by connecting it to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Smart thermometers

Smart thermometers keep getting better and better and the new offering from Kinsa gets personal. The QuickScan Smart Thermometer scans for a no-touch option and can help out multiple family members. The app keeps track of readings and other information with individual profiles and then gives personalized guidance based on age, fever and symptoms.

You can share all the details with your health professionals, keep tabs on when people took medication and get reminders for when to take it next. It’s also FSA/HSA eligible and costs $39.99 with free shipping.

Fever-Bugz stickers

If parents want a simple fever indicator to constantly monitor temperatures at a glance, there’s the Fever-Bugz stickers. They come in the shape of a butterfly, caterpillar, ladybug or bee and each has five black dots. For kids 12 months and older, Fever-Bugz recommends sticking it right on the forehead, but also says the chest, armpit or between the shoulder blades will work.

Within seconds, one of the black dots will show either an N for normal, or a fever indicator of 99, 101, 103 or 105. They have a liquid crystal technology that enables them to indicate the user’s body temperature accurately within one degree Fahrenheit. The pack of eight single-use stickers can last up to 48 hours, can be used in the bath and cost under $7. The company says users should always use a thermometer to confirm temperature.

Playing doctor at home can be stressful and uncertain. But these devices might help with a little peace of mind, or at least be useful in getting important digital information to a real doctor.