Even I wasn’t able to escape the reach of the ‘The Man Flu’

By M. ERIC WILLIAMS,

Well, it finally happened. If you are a follower of my column, you remember that the last few articles have dealt with germs and cold-like symptoms. As it turns out, I became ill a few days ago myself.  I can say without risk of exaggeration that this was the single most horrific, debilitating disease that any human has ever contracted. 

I lay on my deathbed as I suffered a bought of the most serious symptoms including a cough, sore throat, and (gasp) low-grade fever. My wife was no comfort. She only showed 

me where we kept the Dayquil in the medicine drawer. Through sheer willpower and my resolve to live, I pulled through the ugly illness and lived to tell the tale. In short, I was stricken with an all too common condition known simply as “The Man-Flu.” 

Of course, it might not have been as bad as I first imagined.  In fact, it was probably just a strong case of the rhinovirus (common cold). The condition known as “The Man-Flu” has been around for years. I would guess that a group of women got together and coined the phrase after watching their husbands bellyache about a slight cold one time too many. 

As you might have guessed, the man-flu is a tongue-in-cheek jab at men whenever they are sick. But something never added up here. Men are supposed to be the strong type, rig

ht? Men like my father and grandfathers never seemed to complain about anything. What has happened? Has my generation become soft? Surely that can’t be the case. I knew there must be something more to this phenomenon. 

As it turns out, I was right! The British Medical Journal recently published an article (light-hearted in nature, but not a joke) that the man-flu might have merits in science. Their research found that men were much more frequently hospitalized with cases of the flu (influenza, not man-flu) and that men suffered higher death rates from these hospitalizations than women. They guessed that the cause of this was due to an evolutionary difference in the chemical makeup of the predominant male hormone (testosterone) and the predominate female hormones (estrogen and progesterone). 

Premenopausal women actually fight infections better than men due to their levels of estrogen-related hormones. Finally, the journal found that men are much less likely to rece

ive medical attention for their illnesses as opposed to the fairer sex. In short, I found evidence-based research to support what I have always known: when my wife gets sick, she’s just sick. But, when I get sick, it should be a serious emergency!

Of course, I write this article in light-hearted manner myself. To be honest, I think that there really is a generational difference in the way we deal with illness. The under-40 crowd has grown up in an era that we feel much more comfortable vocalizing our discomforts, no matter how minor. 

That doesn’t make us bad people, just different from our parents. We have never known a time that a trip to the doctor was out of our reach or medication wasn’t a quick drive to the pharmacy away. That being said, men really do die more often from illnesses.

Now is a great time to resolve to take our health into our hands. Cancer screenings, blood pressure checks, and diabetic screenings are an important part of being a real man. Unlike the man-flu, those illnesses might actually kill you. 

Stay safe out there.