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Man Flu: A PSA

man fluWe’re knee deep in flu season, and if you haven’t already experienced this phenomenon yet, get ready. Man flu is headed to homes around the country as we speak. Be cautious if you find a male in your life experiencing even the slightest of cold symptoms, and keep reading for some tips to combat this dreaded male drama fest, death evasion.

Exactly what is this man flu? Typically, it’s when a man gets the same cold as a woman, but instead of sucking it up and going on with life, the man flu allows its victims to believe that the world is ending.

For those of you not in the know, here is an example of the man flu (names have been changes for identity’s sake): Beth hasn’t breathed out of both nostrils in four months. She misses the taste of food, lost her voice twice, visited her doctor too many times to count and used up twelve boxes of Kleenex during that time. She also got her kids ready for school every day, got groceries when necessary, made meals, did the laundry, cleaned up the house, and every other thing she regularly does on a daily basis.

Beth’s husband briefly caught her cold and came home from work in the middle of the day with a barely-there fever and a runny nose claiming he was on the brink of death. He took his temperature (a whopping 99.9), and asked Beth to get a new thermometer since that one was obviously broken. Thirty minutes later Beth found him lying in bed, covered in barely-used Kleenex, and whining about wanting chicken soup. When the kids got home, he banned them from seeing him as he was too sick to play or hold a conversation.

To be fair, there may actually be a scientific reason for why men react to colds differently then women. One study suggests a woman’s estrogen may actually slow down a virus like the flu, which may result in lesser symptoms. Another doctor wonders if fevers are more intense in men because the part of the brain that controls body temperature is larger because of testosterone, and therefore has too much space to regulate properly. My interpretation of that: estrogen makes women superheroes, and testosterone makes men debilitated. You interpret the studies as you may.

What can you do to ease the symptoms and suffering of the afflicted man in your home (and maintain your sanity)? While my go-to answer in this situation is always mild mockery, I’ve also found this to be ineffectual and comes back to bite me in the end. Learn from me, please. Instead, do your best to treat the affliction with seriousness and kindness. A cold IS a cold, and no one really feels great during that time.

Taking it to extreme, as many man flu sufferers do, doesn’t mean they are faking it all together. Give them access to tissues, warm blankets, open a can of Campbell’s (ignore demands for his mom’s handmade soup with 26 ingredients you’d have to go to the store for), and explain to the kids that dad is not feeling well, so please treat him as they would want to be treated when they are sick. Feel free to help the patient, but don’t go out of your way. You don’t want to feed into the hysteria and risk another occurrence.

May the cold season be kind to your home. How do you handle man flu in your home?

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