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Battle of the sexes when it comes to man flu

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'Tis the season for man flu. Victims frequently go from a sniffle to death's door, in an instant. Recovery can take weeks, and is only possible with lots of mollycoddling.

Lifestyle spoke to readers about it.

Peter Jovetic insists man flu laid him out flat for two weeks last month. He didn't go to the doctor, but insists his thermometer spiked.

“I think it was 105F,” the 56-year-old chef said. “It's no joke. Mark my words, if women got it, there would be marching in the streets to find a cure. It starts with a sore throat and then always goes to a chest infection.

“The worst part is the aching bones and muscles. I couldn't go to the gym; I couldn't do anything.”

He did manage to drive himself to the store in his pyjamas to buy a chicken.

“I was determined to make myself chicken soup,” he said.

“Most of the time when I'm not feeling well I put on my ‘big girl panties' and go to work, but this was different.”

Peter Faiella, 64, thinks there's a good reason men suffer more — they are weaker.

“I think we men moan and groan about stuff that women just wouldn't moan about,” the property manager said. “I had something a little while ago. I don't know whether it was the flu, but eight weeks later, I'm still coughing.”

He admitted to being a little dramatic whenever he's ill.

“I tell my daughter Sarah she can have my rocking chair when I'm gone,” he laughed. “And I tell my wife Debbie that she can have my boat.

“When I'm really sick, my wife will give me medicine, hot toddies and vapour rub. She definitely doesn't get sick like I do.”

Doctors disagree on whether or not man flu exists.

A study released in December by BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) suggests men are more susceptible to symptoms because their immune systems are weaker.

In 2010, the World Health Organisation reported the opposite: women suffer more and have weaker immune systems.

Kimberley Foley of Bermuda's Hope Health Care was sceptical there was any gender difference.

“I don't think man flu is real,” she said. “Some men don't seek treatment when they should and therefore have more severe symptoms, but that's the same with some women.”

There has been an increase in the severity and frequency of the flu on the island overall, she said.

“One of the problems is that the flu vaccine; isn't covering one of the virulent strains of the flu right now, H3N2,” Dr Foley said.

“That is why we are seeing more cases. People should still get a flu vaccine, it can decrease the severity of illness. If you are sick, stay at home and avoid contact with others. Stay hydrated.”

Tali Gabai-Maiato, of Lucky Elephant Wellness, says what most annoys her is how men become incapable of “simple tasks like taking out the trash or helping with the dishes” at the first sign of illness.

“It's absolutely heartbreaking to listen to the pitiful sniffles and moaning that come along with man flu,” she said.

“While there is no immediate cure, symptoms can be alleviated by catering hand and foot to any males unfortunately afflicted with this virus.

“I would love to help bring awareness to this plight and perhaps one day even a cure or vaccine so that men wouldn't have to suffer.”

Donna Lee Barnes, 55, was also hoping for a cure.

“I've been married to Michael for coming up to 38 years,” she said. “To say there is no such thing as the man flu is false.

“It is a medical condition. When our two children were little, every time I had the flu the dishes got washed, clothes were done, and children were taken care of.

“A few weeks ago I was sick as a dog for a few days and, lo and behold, life went on. He kept saying, ‘I hope you don't give me your sickies'.”

Once he caught the virus, her husband begged for “something to stop it”.

Even after two Advil, he retreated to bed “covers to chin, shaking, shivering, and coughing, nose blowing, moaning, and groaning”.

Deshay Caines's ex-boyfriend made her rub his ears when he was sick.

“I was sick for about a week last fall but continued to work,” said the owner of event planners The Pristine Group. “I spiked a temperature, but I took some medicine and it was okay.”

The real thing: Peter Jovetic insists man flu is real (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Man-flu sceptics Lucky Elephant Yoga owners Alex Hasselkuss (left) and Tali Gabai-Maiato. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published February 16, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated February 16, 2018 at 10:32 am)

Battle of the sexes when it comes to man flu

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