Applying the information from your sports watch or fitness tracker to diagnose a case of the common cold

Having a cold is a really annoying condition. You are not quite as awful as to be destroyed, but you are incapacitated enough to prevent you from going about your daily activities as you normally would. A fever, aches and pains, a stuffy nose, an itchy throat, and watery eyes are among the symptoms of the common cold, which is most prevalent in the spring and fall seasons.

The unfortunate reality is that writers for gadgets and wearables are not immune to the hundreds of viruses that can cause the common cold. And it seems that I have acquired one in the recent past. However, on the bright side, this presented the ideal opportunity for me to document how the illness impacted various aspects of my vital statistics, such as my heart rate, step count, stress levels, and others.

Symptoms of a cold normally begin to manifest themselves anywhere from one to three days after exposure to a virus that causes a cold, reach their height around day four, and begin to lessen around day seven. In the first few days, when I began to experience increasing degrees of exhaustion, I observed that the step counts on my Garmin Forerunner 935 were beginning to steadily decrease. This was accompanied by a small increase in both my stress levels and my resting heart rate. During this preliminary phase, I continued to complete my typical workout routine at the gym, which was a bad idea.

During the third day, and especially the fourth day, as the virus continued to spread and I began to feel quite weak, my resting heart rate skyrocketed, and so did my levels of stress. In point of fact, on the fourth day, my heart rate was about 15 beats per minute faster at rest than it often is, and it remained at that high level for the whole day. The number of steps I took continued to decline as I became weaker, while the amount of time I spent sleeping significantly rose.

Then, without warning, on day 5, everything returned to its usual state. That explains how long it took for the malware to be completely removed from my system.

  Resting heart rate Steps Overall stress level Sleep duration
Prior 7 days (ave) 50 12,519 32 7:19
Day 1 51 10,147 38 7:15
Day 2 53 8,677 34 9:49
Day 3 56 6,807 55 9:16
Day 4 63 10,424 52 10:23
Day 5 51 13,652 29 6:39

There is currently no treatment available for the common cold. Even though symptoms can vary from person to person, the standard recommendation is to get a lot of rest and drink a lot of fluids. The results of my unplanned and brief scientific investigation indicate that this is sound advice. My body worked harder to fight the infection as it spread, which led to a faster heart rate and higher levels of overall bodily stress as a result of the increased physical strain. As a direct result of this, I discovered that I was moving around less and sleeping more.

If you happen to come down with a cold, the good news is that you can use your fitness tracker or sports watch to keep tabs on how far along you are in your illness. If you notice that the normal measurements of your vital signs are off, it is definitely a good idea to take a break from your regular workout regimen until you figure out what’s going on. The bad news is that the consequences of the disease did not show up in my vitals until many days after I had gotten the virus. This was the case, at least in my situation.

However, this might shift at some point in the future. According to research conducted at Stanford University, in the not-too-distant future, we might be able to diagnose illness by keeping track of our heart rate, levels of physical activity, the temperature of our skin, and the amount of oxygen in our blood.

During the course of the study, the researchers fastened as many as eight fitness trackers that are now on the market to the wrists of each of the sixty participants. Monitoring the physiological changes that occur during a variety of activities and determining the function these changes play in disease management, diagnosis, and analysis was the goal of this study.

Over the course of over a year, scientists recorded more than 250,000 daily measurements. After that, they performed an analysis on the data and discovered that periods of illness were connected with readings that were out of the ordinary, such as higher heart rates and skin temperatures. The authors used this data to construct algorithms that could genuinely anticipate when a person was likely to become ill.

After these devices have accumulated sufficient data to determine what your regular baseline readings are, they will be in a better position to detect when something is off,

“The researchers said there is a “good possibility that you are going to become ill if your heart rate and skin temperature are increased for around two hours.”

Intriguingly, they found startling shifts in particular contexts, like airplane journeys, for example, and attributed them to specific factors. Flights at high altitude were associated with a drop in blood oxygen levels, and this decline was linked to feelings of exhaustion.

In addition to that, they made two significant discoveries about health. In the first place, wearable sensors proved to be helpful in determining the beginning stages of Lyme disease and inflammation. Second, they discovered that wearable sensors can reveal physiological differences between individuals who are insulin-sensitive and those who are insulin-resistant. This finding raises the possibility that wearable sensors may one day be used to assist in the detection of individuals who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Positive takeaways can be drawn from the findings of the study as a whole. It is extremely important to recognize diseases in their early stages. In the vast majority of instances, the earlier a condition is discovered, the greater the likelihood that it can be cured or kept under good control. However, I wouldn’t recommend using your fitness tracker to attempt a self-diagnosis just yet.

Snyder emphasizes the importance of keeping track of your vital signs on a consistent basis as opposed to having a doctor assess them once a year and comparing the results to those of the general population.

“For instance, heart rate fluctuates quite a bit, which means that population averages don’t tell you very much.”

“I have a prediction that your smartwatch will be able to warn you before you are sick, or confirm that you are sick if you are feeling a little off,” said the researcher.

This is the next step that should be taken logically. Wearables are now quite effective in tracking fitness, and in the near future, they will also play an essential part in the process of managing our health. In a few years, the fitness tracker or sports watch you wear may be able to tell you you are unwell even before you do.

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