NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It's here. The time of year every spouse and significant other dreads—flu season. We all know of this unwanted season, which hits its peak between December and February and causes more than three million cases per year, but have you heard of man-flu season?
Man flu is a crippling and debilitating disorder primarily targeting male members of the human species wherein a common illness (such as the common cold) is presented by the patient as "life-threatening." Man flu exemplifies "chronic exaggeration;" when victims catch a simple cold, they exaggerate their symptoms and interpret them as if they had a more severe illness like the flu.
Monitoring your symptoms is important to determine whether you have the flu or the man flu (the common cold). Can you spot the difference?
The flu is a common viral infection that attacks the lungs, nose and throat. Flu symptoms include body aches, fever, chills, cough, sore throat and nasal congestion. These symptoms are usually abrupt, but typically start with the first three (body aches, fever and chills) followed by cough, sore throat and congestion.
Special tests are available to properly diagnose the flu. If flu symptoms arise, visit your primary care physician for diagnosis and care. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-viral medication specifically for the flu which can decrease the duration of symptoms, however, the flu is treated primarily with plenty of rest and fluids to help the body fight the infection on its own. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers can also assist with symptom relief.
"Preventative care is essential when working to protect yourself from the flu," said Dr. Jake Rodi, MD, Family Medicine at Ochsner Belle Chasse. "Both the flu and common cold are spread by simple human interaction, whether through shaking hands, touching a contaminated surface like a door knob or through airborne respiratory droplets like coughing or sneezing. Making a habit of simple, everyday actions like washing your hands can help prevent the spread of germs and decrease your chances of contracting the virus."
Be proactive by receiving your flu vaccine to prevent the flu and limit its complications.
In contrast to the flu, the common cold can be caused by many different virus types. The condition is not severe and symptoms usually clears within one or two weeks. Cold symptoms are milder than those of the flu (runny nose, sneezing and congestion) and can be treated with over-the-counter products and/or home remedies to control symptoms.
"Whether a cold or the flu, it is extremely important to receive proper care as soon as symptoms arise," said Rodi. "Prompt diagnosis is essential to allow physicians necessary time to monitor for worsening symptoms that could progress to flu pneumonia or Sepsis, a life-threatening complication caused by your body's response to an infection."
What preventive actions can we take to stop the spread of germs and prevent both the flu and common cold/man flu this season?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Flu shots take about two weeks to provide protection. Get vaccinated before peak flu season.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. With each touch, you're spreading germs!
Rodi's recommendations for those with the man flu? "If you are diagnosed with the man flu, you are in luck—the best treatment you can receive is some tender, loving care from family and friends."