Although not a recognised medical condition, ‘man flu’ occurs when a man experiences flu-like symptoms of variable severity. Those immune from man flu – predominantly women, but also men of strong constitution – often cast doubt on the condition’s validity. The ‘doubters’ claim Man Flu is merely an exaggerated common cold or entirely psychosomatic.
So, is man flu real? And what should you do if you catch it?
What is man flu?
Depending on your outlook (and possibly gender), man flu is either a vicious and debilitating attack on the immune system or a figment of the sufferer’s imagination. Man flu symptoms are similar to those of common flu.
Symptoms of man flu include:
- High temperature
- Blocked Nose
- Sore throat
However, man flu can involve additional symptoms such as loud complaining by the sufferer, a need for constant attention (preferably of the mollycoddling variety), and continual relapses over an extended time period when faced with unwanted tasks.
The oestrogen advantage?
In 2014 the ‘Man Flu Believers’ received a boost. Research conducted by Harvard University on mice suggested men were less resistant to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses. Scientists introduced pneumonia in the lungs of mice and saw the females recovered quicker than the males. Increased female resistance was linked to the enzyme NOS3 (nitric oxide synthase 3) – which is activated by the release of oestrogen. When the scientists removed the gene responsible for producing NOS3 the female mice lost their increased resistance to infection. Therefore the permanently oestrogen-less male might indeed suffer more from flu and similar ailments.
Conditions related to man flu
Regardless of gender, illness is never a laughing matter. The conditions below could either be masquerading as man flu or worsened by it, these conditions include:
Short for influenza, flu is different and more vicious than the common cold. It generally lasts for about a week. While not life-threatening, flu can be extremely unpleasant. Rest, stay warm, drink plenty of water, and take a few days off. Antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu can treat the illness and reduce the chances of infection. You can also get an annual flu vaccine to protect you against the flu.
For the suspicious, most cases of ‘Man Flu’ are in fact common colds. This is a mild viral infection of the throat, nose, sinuses and upper airways. Over 200 viruses can cause a cold and there is no known cure. Fortunately, colds only cause mild discomfort and little disruption to the working life. A day off can’t hurt, while lozenges and aspirins can treat the symptoms but don’t hasten recovery. See ‘What is the difference between a cold and flu?’ for more detail on both.
A very common allergy that can provoke the flu-like symptoms of a blocked or runny nose and excessive sneezing. Red or watery eyes, worsening of asthma symptoms and an itchy throat can also occur. Hay Fever is caused by an allergy to pollen and especially common in spring. Although without cure, preventive measures can limit the effects. Tablets such as Loratadine and Telefast help to manage hay fever symptoms.
Although the two are not directly related, flu symptoms often make asthma worse. . For 90% of people, viruses (such as flu) act as asthma triggers. Since flu and asthma can both compromise the sufferer’s airwaves, a combination of the two can aggravate the asthma and potentially lead to more serious conditions, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
Visit our asthma clinic for more information on managing your asthma.