Man Flu: The silent, potentially fatal and often misunderstood scourge on men’s health (or How I learned to stop sniffling and love the Bomb)

Whilst our attention is currently being understandably drawn to well publicised injuries and ailments such as Michael Clarke’s back, Jobe Watson’s shoulder and David Warner’s brain, there is a much greater and more widespread affliction impacting men all over Australia that doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

Whilst high profile campaigns such as Movember and Feb Fast have in recent years drawn serious and much needed attention to the issues of prostate cancer and alcohol, and Beyond Blue does wonderful work highlighting the growing issues of mental health awareness, one malaise continues to go under the radar.

However, this creeping and insidious beast, which impacts men without fear or favour or any warning at all, has the potential to create much greater havoc on the country and cost to the community.

I refer of course to the scourge that is Man Flu.

I should know; I am only just recovering from a terrible dose over the last few days.

Man Flu should not be confused with its more benign cousins, such as a cold, the lurgy, normal flu or even the dreaded sniffles.

Let’s get this straight and out in the open; Man Flu is a much more serious issue affecting men from all walks of life, all over Australia and at any time.

My own strain of Man Flu was mercifully not fatal or contagious, nor was it as debilitating as it can be. Nonetheless, I feel that this is situation often misunderstood, usually misdiagnosed and commonly greeted with a frighteningly harsh and dismissive lack of sympathy that overall, needs greater attention.

Whilst not every cold is Man Flu, Man Flu moves from a cold with alarming pace, taking over the host’s body with little warning. Once contracted, it can restrict movement to barely being able to get off the couch, removes the ability to undertake even the most menial household chore and makes you the hostage of the tissue box within hours.

You cannot wear anything else but trackies, sport socks and big windcheaters and need the reassuring comfort of the TV remote in your hand.

Man Flu is often hidden from society in a variety of ways. Players are rested from AFL games or quoted as suffering from general soreness, but we who have dealt with this accursed mistress know all too well the real story that is not being told. Men also are brave and selfless champions in not wanting to make too much of a fuss about their condition, usually to their female partners who seem, it is sad to say, to not fully grasp the gravity of the situation.

It is not uncommon for men to try to push through, to deny to themselves that they are sufferers, nay, even carriers, of this parasite. Men will bravely continue to go to work, where one of the side effects of Man Flu, the need to constantly remind people of their condition and progress, occurs.

However, Man Flu is not easily beaten, and despite the best intentions of brave men, we too often succumb to its power.

My own recovery has been fortunately a good one. However, I may not always be that lucky.

This is why I am attempting to launch more research into this male only condition, and to eventually find a cure.

We have had Jeans for Genes Day, so I what about Golf for Man Flu weekend?

Men all over Australia should converge on local golf clubs and get in a weekend of golf, followed by the necessary rehydration sessions, to look into this issue in greater depth.

Men need to talk more about this disease, share their experiences, swap potential cures, sympathise and be there for fellow sufferers, as well as supporting their local golf club or pub.

It is only through being more open with each other, raising funds, legitimising this evil predicament and celebrating those who have recovered to tell the tale that we will eventually beat this scourge on Australian male society.

Please join me in raising the profile of the impact of Man Flu on Australian society.

Crush the Cold. Flick the Flu. Smash the Sniffles. Lash the Lurgy.

Make Man Flu history

If you can meet with triumph and Man Flu, and treat those two imposters just the same, then you’re a man my son.

Let’s see an end, through golf, football and cricket, men watching sport together and constant hydration, to Man Flu in our lifetime.


About Sean Curtain

"He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad". First line of 'Scaramouche' by Sabatini, always liked that.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Sean, for promoting awareness of this debilitating disease. We must find a cure.

    Can see a Make Man Flu History concert being held across 3 continents. Is Bob Geldof aware of this worthy campaign?

  2. Sean – you and Ashton Agar are my inspiration as I sit here bravely – tissue box in hand – contemplating the great issues of life.
    Make soup? Hang washing on line? Surely my headache comes from man flu – not cheap red and test cricket – after all I have the empty tissue box that verifies broader systems of this modern plague?
    Curry and beer with friends tonight as planned – or call a ‘sickie’ in favour of seeing AA’s 5/76 in the second dig?
    Most critically am I too sick for golf tomorrow? Should I call in sick in favour of the remote and a new tissue box?
    Your clarion call has decided me. I will never surrender in the face of this insidious disease. Ashton may not have got his hundred, but I feel confident that I can tomorrow.

  3. Thanks gents

    Luke, Concert is a great idea. Sponsored by Klennex and Sudafed, we can get nasally singers to perform, Dylan perhaps?

    Peter, too sick for golf? Sorry, don’t understand the question, or is it rhetorical (I didn’t study those as Radar O’Reilly told Henry Blake)

    Say it after me PB: Your condition is not due to cheap red, you may be a carrier, seek help immediately, including advising everyone in your vicinity you have MF.

    It’s only through being honest about our condition and addressing it that we’ll beat thsi thing.

    Golf tomorrow? Curry tonight? Your golf club needs you. Your country needs you. MEN need you

  4. Thanks Sean, you’ve decided me. Usual poor round tomorrow and I have a ready made excuse (beyond lack of ability) for a change. Play well and it is a tribute to Ashton and Sean’s example, and my own (indomitable) will.
    What’s not to like? Its Vindaloo, VB and Vicks for me tonight.

  5. I too am a silent man flu sufferer, Sean. Pizza, tinnies, sitting round the couch 24/7 … it’s a living hell

    Luv it

  6. PB

    A win win, I like that.

    We stand together my friend, happy to help the cause. Mention my name.

    Vindaloo, VB and Vicks, sounds like a law firm I used once.


    No longer suffer in silence. Your recover program sounds like a treat too!


  7. Andrew Fithall says

    Sean – I have my doubts about your diagnosis. If it was actually man flu, you wouldn’t be using tissues. Nor you Peter B. Tissues are only effective on the lesser forms of colds and flu. Man flu requires a hankie. Man-sized hankie. Used and re-used until sodden, and only when totally saturated, replaced with another. Get those tissues out of sight before someone calls you out.

  8. Andrew

    I yield to your medical background and knowledge, you are correct.

    I recently found two pairs of pants I hadn’t worn for about 6 years and in getting them ready for the Brotherhood, of course, there’s the trusty hankie in each right pocket waiting to be used. Never leave home without it.

    I have gone through hankies this week. I like them folded not scrunched up.

    Tissues just get left in a pocket and make a mess of the washing.

    I stand corrected.

  9. You are right of course AF. In my defence I should say I only own 3 hankies, as this is usually more than adequate for a week’s supply. In this case – all sodden after a day.
    I only reached for the tissues in desperation – after the Avenging Eagle caught me using a tea towel.
    Now there is a topic for conjecture. Why does our linen press have 87 tea towels and 3 hankies? Why does AE feel the need to change tea towels daily? I told her we only use them AFTER the dishes are CLEAN. But I change hankies weekly in normal times.
    Also, when cooking I eat anything that spills out on the floor. Tastier, and seems wasteful to throw away a good prawn or bacon slice. When the AE sees me she turns up her nose. I tell her I’m eating it, not putting it back in the pan. No signs of gastro in the last 30 years. Kids today see Master Chef and automatically throw anything with the slightest taint straight in the bin.
    In my day …………………………………

  10. My poor poor Sean. This is clearly a cry for help and I, as your ever faithful but still condescending wife, feel that I have neglected my duty. I did buy more tissues and a whole new (inside use- by) pack of Codral Cold n (man)Flu in an effort to address the impending crisis. However I agree that once it took hold nothing could defy the symptoms or the misery it inflicted (on all of us). It is a very good thing that you work with mostly women or the whole company may fold. You have battled through with usual stoicism and it is a wonderful thing that the Test was timed for your recuperation. For that we thank the television gods. And I also note that it was not sufficiently debilitating to affect your interest in a night time Scotch, any sporting event or the Thursday night Roast.
    20 years ago I should have made the solemn vow and promise to nurse you through Man Flu. Sadly, I didn’t.
    I will however continue to wash your manky hankies.
    And those of your Son who appears to have inherited the male genetic curse.

Leave a Comment