Man flu: does it really exist?

Posted on 20th July, 2012

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Until recently, I’d never before experienced it. I’ve seen women roll their eyes at their significant other as he writhes on the floor in agony after a few harmless sneezes. I’ve heard tales of men taking to their beds and expecting to be waited on for merely having a tickle in his throat. I thought these were minor exaggerations. Alas, I was wrong. Man flu exists, my friends. And I’ve survived to tell the tale (although the male in question is TBA).

In an odd case of timing, news in the last few weeks reported that Australian researchers found that female volunteers in a study had a “much stronger immune response” to rhinoviruses — the bugs that usually cause the common cold — than men. Sigh. Must women really be better at everything than men? We give birth. We act as mothers/PAs/friends/coaches/teachers and so on all at once. I guess it’s no surprise that we are better at pushing through when we get the sniffles.

Professor John Upham, of the University of Queensland, said: “It makes sense from a biological point of view because women are more likely to ensure the survival of the species.”

Geez, no pressure. Next time I think about taking to the couch when I’m not feeling well, I’ll be sure to think about the survival of the species and go for a run. When my male counterparts run to their beds though, I’ll take them cups of tea with lemon and honey because bless them, the poor souls, they feel it more.

Take the male in question. Over the last few weeks, his health has rapidly declined. It began with being a bit rundown. Then the sniffles. Then a cough. I smiled, asked how he was feeling, and tried to stay patient. Slowly, the shivering fits arose. At this point, I rolled my eyes. I started Googling “psychosomatic shivering fits” (FYI, some pointed to Man flu). I did become mildly concerned when the shivering fits were followed by beads of sweat, but by this stage I was so appalled by what I assumed was a shocking case of Man flu that I wasn’t sure I cared anymore.

I may have seemed dismissive. This, I am willing to admit. One of my brother-in-law’s favourite sayings is “Go and drink a cup of cement”, as in, harden up. I did think of taking cement rather than the tea/honey/lemon option.

But, men, before you start sending me abusive posts, take note: I may have judged too quickly. This questionable Man flu has actually turned out to be pneumonia. Oops. My apologies to the male race. I will not be so quick to diagnose manflu and I’ll try to be more sympathetic. And I’ll spread the word among my female counterparts.

But, before I do that, I feel the need to point out one more thing. My sister is six months’ pregnant with her second child. At three months, she got pneumonia. And then broke a rib while coughing too much. And did I mention she’s also trying to grow a human? After a week or two off, she soldiered on back to work without a word of complaint, despite not being completely up to it.

Yet, I suppose she’s just doing what she’s supposed to: ensuring the survival of the species.


Source: Body & Soul – Gemma Sutherland