In grip of winter ills and chills

June 08, 2016

As if I needed any further confirmation that the weather has turned to winter, I’m now nursing my second head cold in four weeks.

It’s not the knock-you-for-six, keep-you-out-of-action-for-weeks kind of cold (well, hopefully it doesn’t turn out that way) but it is the annoying kind where you can’t concentrate as well as you normally do because your head hurts, your eyes water and your nose itches and needs constant blowing.

I should have known that I was destined for another bout of coughing and sneezing. Last week was not a good week.

First, I got back to work and found it took the heating a couple of days to adjust to the onset of winter so there were coats and scarves involved even when just sitting in the office.

Then I got home and the central heating had died and the remainder of the week was spent in front of a blow heater, which worked reasonably efficiently but meant the house wasn’t as toasty as it is normally.

But I reckon the icing on the cake was probably dinner out on the Shepparton Golf Course on Tuesday last week.

It was all for a very worthwhile cause mind you — to raise funds for this month’s Give Me Five for Kids campaign — but it was cold all the same that night, even with coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

I obviously have some sort of susceptibility at the moment to the dreaded lurgy so here I sit with yet more packets of tissues, headache tablets, throat lozenges and green tea.

They don’t cure it, but they surely make you feel a lot better than you do without them.

A bowl of humble chicken noodle soup works pretty well, too, at least for long enough to get the day’s work done and hopefully get home for an early night that will tackle the fatigue.

Given the weather conditions in other parts of the country at the moment, I’m grateful we’re dealing only with cooler temperatures and welcome rain.

Tides that wash away your backyard and feed rivers and creeks that rise to flow through homes, streets and businesses, endangering lives, and in some cases, taking them; it’s all pretty frightening really.

We had been lulled into a fool’s paradise.

The milder weather that prevailed throughout much of autumn after a long, hot summer meant some of us familiar with the declining winter temperatures over northern Victoria foolishly chose to forget what it could be like.

But no more. The gloves, scarves, woollens, heavy socks and beanies are coming out. The heating in all locations now appears to have been fixed so my intention is to try to throw off this cold as soon as possible with a few early nights and staying out of the elements until some robustness returns.

Apparently, robustness is a stronger trait among women than it is among men, where symptoms of the common cold are concerned.

Writing for The Conversation this week, Sergio Diez Alvarez, a director of medicine at the Maitland and Kurri Kurri Hospital and the University of Newcastle, said though ‘‘man flu’’ was a colloquial term, there was growing scientific evidence supporting its widespread use in popular parlance.

Data from a 2015 Personality and Health Satisfaction Project suggested men coped less well than women when confronted by more than one physical illness and it was therefore possible men and women had a different threshold for perceiving symptoms, especially when clustered as in the common cold.

He cited other research identifying oestrogen, the main female hormone, as having a role in the modulation of immunity, while men are shown to have an impaired response to viruses.

I’m not sure whether to be reassured or not. It seems that even though my cold virus has returned, I’m still more likely to throw it off more quickly than my male colleagues and, hopefully, less likely to see it a third time this winter.

Di Thomas is the editor of The News.

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