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. Recommended annually for everyone older than six months, Ochsner Health System offers four ways to receive your flu shot: Ochsner primary care physicians offer flu shots by appointment, Ochsner Corporate Wellness offers on-site flu vaccinations at local area businesses, Ochsner Pharmacy & Wellness locations accept most insurances and walk-ins are welcome, and Ochsner Urgent Care provides quick diagnosis and treatment for walk-in patients.
In contrast to the flu, the common cold can be caused by many different virus types. The condition is not severe and symptoms usually clear 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 (CDC) 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.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. With each touch, you’re spreading germs!
Dr. 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.”
For more information on the flu and common cold, please visit www.Ochsner.org/flu.
To find your nearest primary care doctor, visit https://www.ochsner.org/services/primary-care/.
To find your nearest Ochsner Urgent Care center, visit www.ochsner.org/services/urgent-care-services.
To learn more about where you can get your flu shot, visit https://www.ochsner.org/health-resources/flu-shots/.