Tracking minor ailments across the U.S.


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Have you ever suffered from a stuffy nose and wondered if other residents in [insert your home state here] were similarly afflicted? Even if you’re now staring at the screen in bemusement, thinking, “Um, no, I have never once wondered that,” we bet you are now.

Enter pharmaceutical company Help Remedies, which recently launched “What’s Wrong U.S.?” an interactive site that uses national sales data for the company’s eight products to track ailments affecting Americans. Hovering a mouse over each U.S. state on the color-coded map reveals what type of ache and pain is currently most common.

At press time, California was high in allergies, Illinois had chest congestion, and New York was suffering from cuts.

While the data may not affect some grand change in health care, it’s certainly an interesting state-by-state look into what minor ailments are affecting each state at the present moment.

“The idea came about one day when we were poring over weekly numbers from Target,” said Help’s co-founder and CEO Richard Fine. “The information seemed more important than sales data. It was like a weekly documentation of America’s problems. We thought other people might find it as interesting as we did.”

Some of the data are unsurprising. For example, Help found that stuffy noses trends highly in the Midwest during winter, and blisters are a big problem during Fashion Week in New York and LA. Other information is more difficult to explain.

“The anomalies are what we are looking for because that’s where we can help,” said Nathan Frank, co-founder and creative director. “Say there’s a massive spike in headaches in Duluth. We can send a team to figure out what’s causing the problem. If there’s a gaudily colored building on Main Street that everybody complains about, we can repaint the building. People might ask, isn’t that counter productive? Don’t you want to sell more ‘Help I have a headache?’ We want to help people. If we can do that without drugs, all the better.”

Help Remedies also recorded a number of humorous investigatory interviews with regional “experts” to investigate the various problems it uncovered. In one video, Help Remedies asks an occasional nudist if nudity in New Jersey is the cause of a spike in cuts.

The site will be updated weekly as sales data comes in from Help’s national retailer network.