It's common knowledge amongst men that Man Flu is a crippling and debilitating disorder that can strike us down indiscriminately and without warning. Rather cruelly it's often referred to pejoratively by women as something trivial: a fuss over nothing; making mountains out of molehills. But what do they know? They are lucky enough to be immune to the illness as Man Flu is now known to attack exclusively the XY chromosome carrier (i.e. males) whereas the simple common cold predominantly targets XX chromosome holders (i.e. females). Medical professionals widely recognise that self diagnosis by the sufferer is the very best means of identification and this, perhaps, goes some way to explain the cynicism some women display towards their male counterparts. Take a look at the following diagrams and be convinced of the biological basis of Man Flu.
|The nasty Man Flu influenza virus which specifically targets males through its XY Receptor (indicated). Note its absence in the 'female' virus.|
|The normal influenza virus which is relatively mild and infects women. Note the absence of the XY Receptor. |
For those with doubts, I give some answers below to a few common misperceptions about the malady.
Man Flu is simply a cold, the symptoms of which are greatly exaggerated by men. FALSE - Man Flu is a serious and potentially life threatening illness. It's a distinct disease in its own right, and should not be confused with the common cold. I think it's only a matter of time before it appears on the Health and Safety Executive's list of Reportable Diseases.
Women can catch Man Flu. FALSE - The clue is in the name: Man Flu does not attack humans with the XX chromosome, only those with the XY chromosome. This means that women are effectively immune to its ravages. This fact may account for the reason that women widely, but unkindly, believe that Man Flu is actually just the common cold, but with a lot of histrionics thrown in for good measure.
The best way to deal with Man Flu is to just 'get on with it'. FALSE - Extensive research has proven that the only way to combat the crippling effects of Man Flu is complete withdrawal to the couch/bed and uninterrupted mollycoddling of the sufferer by his female partner.
Men have a slower recovery rate from Man Flu than women do from the common cold. TRUE - The effects of Man Flu can linger for days and days (if not weeks and weeks), compared with just a few hours for the common cold. It is absolutely crucial to recognise that, if the man is not permitted the correct period of convalescence following an attack of Man Flu, he can be plunged back into a parlous condition.
The pain and suffering of Man Flu is similar to that of child birth. TRUE - Though I will say that with child birth it's generally all over in just a few hours (I know as I've been through it twice), but Man Flu can last for weeks.
And, finally, if you are still sceptical about the existence of Man Flu, just listen to the words of Ogden Nash in his poem 'Common Cold'. Wonderful imagery and if he isn't describing Man Flu, I'll eat my tissues.