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These iPhone apps can help you recognize illness symptoms

by Megan O'Neil

When Los Angeles-based television report Serene Branson delivered a strangely garbled on-air report from the Grammy Awards show last year – a 30-second news clip that became news itself – speculation flew. Was she drunk? Did she have a stroke? Or maybe a yet-undiagnosed brain tumor?

Doctors eventually determined it was a migraine with aura, or a complex migraine, which can mimic a stroke. Branson reported having a bad headache and blurry vision earlier in the day. Linking seemingly unrelated symptoms can be tough, but there are several great iPhone applications that can help. So if you ever find yourself having a Serene Branson moment, pull out your phone. But please remember: none of these apps can replace a medical professional, so if you’re not feeling well, get yourself to a doctor.

 

Already one of the most popular health-related websites, the free WebMD app is a great place to start for a cursory diagnosis. It is divided into five categories, including a symptom checker, conditions, drugs and treatment, first aid information and local health listings – everything you could need when facing a health crisis. The app truly is a wealth of information: each symptom is linked to a dozen possible causes, each of which are then linked to a dozen possible remedies.

The free Symptom Checker MD app prompts you to type in your symptoms, and then provides you with tons of search results, including news reports and local health care providers. It might seem a little difficult to sift through all the info, but the app does include a “recommended results” category which helps to narrow things down.


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Like other health symptom apps, the free Medzio Health Navigator one has tons of information. But what sets it apart is its first aid feature, which gives great advice on how to handle incidents that a parent would face on any given day, such as how to treat a bee sting and what to do if a child has swallowed dirt.

High blood pressure is a common health problem in the United States, and can lead to hyper tension and heart attacks. The BloodPressure Pro app ($0.99) is a great tool to help you stay on top of your blood pressure levels, or those of a loved one. Hold the iPhone’s rear camera to your wrist, and the app can actually measure your blood pressure.

It has a silly name, but the Diagnosaurus DDx app ($0.99) is efficient and easy to use. It’s advertised as an app for health professionals, but regular folks should find some use for it. It lets you search for symptoms, diseases and so on, then save things that you come across that might be useful to note for the future.

Whether you are trying to stay on top of your own health, or the health of a loved one, there are going to be plenty of appointment dates and medications to remember. The My Health Records – Health n Family app ($6.99) allows you to save vital information, record lab reports, prescriptions etc. It is password protected so no one can access it but you, and it dramatically cuts down on paperwork.