Apptitude: Smartphone allergy sniffers

Posted: April 25, 2012

Allergy and asthma sufferers are often on the lookout for the triggers that may turn a good day into a bad one. Here are some smartphone apps for early warnings on airborne and food allergens, and for tracking symptoms.

AllergyAlert is a free iPhone and Android app that displays Pollen.com’s allergy and pollen forecast for your zip code. You’ll either enter a zip manually or allow the app to access your location. Additional indexes show risks for those suffering from asthma, the relative danger of ultraviolet exposure, and the prevalence of cold and flu symptoms.

Tapping a “Pollen.com” banner on the app takes a user to the Pollen.com mobile website, which also has weather forecasts.

AsthmaMD, free from Mobile Breeze for Apple devices, is for asthma sufferers and their doctors. A “wizard” takes the user through a profile setup to begin a diary of symptoms, asthma triggers and medications (Advair, Albuterol, Flovent, etc.).

In the app’s settings, you can enter e-mail addresses that include your doctor’s, who can then receive automatic reports on the diary entries you make to record the triggers and severity of an asthma incident and other information.

In addition, and by way of a warning, the app is designed to send anonymous encrypted information from your entries to a database that is meant to be available to asthma researchers. If you don’t want to participate in the data collection, turn off the “secured transmission” item in the app settings.

My search for apps that deal with allergies turned up Recalls Plus from SAP A.G. because it lists “allergen related recalls” among the product-recall alerts it tracks.

In addition to a general feed of recall notices, the free app for Android and Apple is for parents of infants and toddlers, who may set it up to get alerts on FDA food recalls in connection with eight common allergens: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soybeans, tree nuts, and wheat.

Beyond that, the app can look out for recalls involving specific child-care products. The notices can be instantly shared on Facebook or Twitter, or by e-mail.

Air Quality Pro, a 99-cent iPhone app from Mobeezio Inc., reports the air-quality-index numbers for your location, based on GPS. A color-coded key — from green for good to purple for very, very bad — provides a quick reference. If you enable a notification feature, the app will display your location’s index number with the app’s icon on your phone’s screen.

Contact Reid Kanaley at rkanaley@phillynews.com, 215-854-5114 or @ReidKan on Twitter. Read his columns at www.philly.com/kanaley.

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