Man-flu may be for real!
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES
A study published in the British Medical Journal on December 27, 2017 reporting the results of an investigation into the existence of “man-flu” suggests that flu in men may really be more severe and cause worse symptoms than flu in women.

Abstract of original journal article: http://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5560.long

Summary from Harvard Health Blog: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/man-flu-really-thing-2018010413033?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BF20180108-Mens50& _id=768123&dlv-ga-memberid=11209283&mid=11209283&ml=768123

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The idea that men experience flu differently than women has been the butt of many a joke. But, this research suggests there may really be a difference.  Some of the supporting data for this is that the flu vaccine works better in women, men are hospitalized more frequently with the flu than women and men take longer to recuperate from the flu than women.

Influenza is not something to take lightly. It is among the top ten causes of death in the U.S. Regardless of who suffers more from the symptoms, it makes most sense to prevent it. To that end, below are some strategies offered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent contracting the flu:

  1. Get vaccinated.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. Wash your hands frequently (use soap and water to remove virus that may be on your hands.)
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth (flu virus on your hands can enter your body by touching these areas).
  5. Get enough rest (7-9 hours for adults)
  6. Clean frequently touched surfaces in the house, at school and work with a disinfectant. (Flu viruses can ‘live’ on hard surfaces for 24 hours. Bleach [mixed in water], peroxide, soap, alcohol all kill flu viruses)
  7. Drink plenty of fluids.
  8. Manage stress (the stress response suppresses the immune system)

Treatment of the flu include the following:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration – chicken soup is especially good, as is ginger tea, and tea with honey (not for children under 1 year)
  2. Increase the humidity in the house. Flu viruses don’t do well in moist air.
  3. Warm baths may reduce aches. Add Epson Salt or baking soda to the water.
  4. Gargle with salt water
  5. Use a nasal irrigation – Neti pot or saline squeeze bottle.
  6. Warm compresses on the forehead and nose to relieve pain.
  7. Rest
  8. Antiviral medications (work best if taken within two days of getting sick. They shorten the length of illness by about 1-2 days)
    Keep in mind that the flu and colds are caused by viruses. This means antibiotics don’t work on them and should not be taken to treat them.

Although most people recuperate from the flu within 1-2 weeks, some people are at increased risk of serious complications which include:

Pneumonia
Bronchitis
Sinus infections
Ear infections
The flu also can also trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma, and worsen congestive heart failure.
(CDC, 2018)

  According to the CDC, (2018a) people with the following conditions are those most at risk:        

Asthma
Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease)
Kidney disorders
Liver disorders
Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)

Other people at high risk for complications from the flu include

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Influenza is often confused with a cold, but there are real differences between the two aliments, as the chart below shows:

 

 

 

For more information

Preventing the flu
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm

 
Cleaning to prevent the flu
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/pdf/seasonal-flu/contamination_cleaning_english_508.pdf

 

People at high risk of flu complications
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2018)
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm

 

Flu antiviral drugs (CDC, 2018a)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2018a)
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/antivirals/whatyoushould.htm