Cold And Flu Season Will Hit These 20 Cities Hardest In 2016

Happy New Year?

The start of the new year is supposed to represent a clean and healthy slate. But for many Americans, it'll be the beginning of a week of nose-blowing and phlegm-hacking, as cold and flu symptoms are expected to peak during the first week of 2016.

Experts at WebMD predict the 2015-16 cold and flu season will spike in early January, with the Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest regions set to experience the highest levels of cold and flu symptoms in the country.

Using a combination of geo-location information and data compiled from the four million monthly visits to WebMD’s Symptom Checker, the website's staff produced an interactive map projecting a real-time analysis of sicknesses across the U.S. A WebMD spokeswoman said the models used to track symptoms can predict cold and flu trends up to six weeks in advance, with results highly predictive of data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These are the 20 U.S. cities most likely to experience the highest rates of cold and flu symptoms in early 2016:

1. Richmond/Norfolk, Virginia

2. Knoxville, Tennessee

3. Louisville, Kentucky

4. Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

5. Nashville, Tennessee

6. Charlotte, North Carolina

7. Baltimore, Maryland/Washington, D.C.

8. Roanoke, Virginia

9. Charleston, South Carolina

10. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

11. Indianapolis, Indiana

12. Phoenix/Tucson, Arizona

13. Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio

14. Birmingham/Montgomery, Alabama

15. Atlanta, Georgia

16. Austin, Texas

17. St. Louis, Missouri

18. Columbus, Ohio

19. Grand Rapids, Michigan

20. Omaha, Nebraska

Whether an illness is the flu or a common cold can be determined by comparing symptoms, but either way, the viruses are uncomfortable and a nuisance. Both can result in sneezing, coughing and achey feelings.

Anywhere from five to 20 percent of Americans contract the flu each year, according to the CDC. Your best bet for staying clear of the sickness this season is to get the flu shot if you haven't already, stay hydrated, exercise and wash your darn hands.

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