Warning Biohazard! Warning Biohazard!

 If ManFlu has got you place this sign on the door!

If ManFlu has got you place this sign on the door!

This may well be my last blog...

I am sat, well, slumped, awaiting confirmation from the Centre of Disease Control for what I already know is true...

I try to put on a brave face for my loved ones whilst wondering how they would cope without me. I have to admire my wife's and daughter's strength; they are managing to act as if nothing serious is happening but...


It slowly snuck up on me, making me feel tired (more than usual), not feeling quite right and finally went 'full blown' today with a cough and sore throat. To those less medically qualified such as my wife and daughter the symptoms could easily be mistaken for the common cold. My wife has tried to reassure me, but it's alright for her: she (and my daughter) are protected by their second X chromosome.

Help is at hand, as ever, from the internet with useful advice for the infected and their carers at MAN FLU INFO.

My wife has just pointed out she is 8 months pregnant, has a cold and isn't moaning so I better pull myself together or else!

Well, OK, maybe it is just a cold -- BUT anxiety about our health is a real problem. According to the Canadian Psychological Association 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 people are constanly worrying about their health.

Health anxiety or hypochondriasis is an excessive fear of being ill. It can lead to checking for symptoms repeatedly, seeking reassurance from medical professionals all the time, and having tests you don't need. Most of the time the person with hypochondriasis does not calm down once they are checked out or reassured: they worry that something has been missed.

At times doctors are not understanding. This can make patients feel let down or rejected. Feeling like they have no alternatives, patients can seek advice from practitioners who maybe do not have their best interests at heart -- people who play on their fears to sell 'quack' remedies.

There is treatment that works available.  A talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy is what works best. A type of antidepressant tablets called serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs can also be helpful some times.  Check out the articles 1 through 4 listed at the bottom if you want to see where I got all that from.

If you want to learn more a charity Anxiety UK has a useful fact sheet and questionnaire.

(1) Barsky AJ, Ahern DK: Cognitive behavior therapy for hypochondriasis: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2004; 291:1464-1470.

(2) Clark DM, Salkovskis PM, Hackman A, Wells A, Fennell M, Ludgate J, Ahmand S, Richards HC, Gelder M: Two psychological treatments for hypochondriasis, a randomized controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry 1998; 173:218-225.

(3) Fallon BA, Schneier FR, Marshall R, Campeas R, Vermes D, Goetz D, Liebowitz MR: The pharmacotherapy of hypochondriasis. Psychopharmacol Bull 1996; 32:607-611.

(4) Fallon BA, Qureshi AI, Schneiner FR, Sanchez-Lacay A, Vermes D, Feinstein R, Connelly J, Liebowitz MR: An open trial of fluvoxamine for hypochondriasis. Psychosomatics 2003; 44:298-303.

Andres FonsecaComment