"Ugh... honey, I'm sick!" You find your man huddled under a blanket on the couch, sneezing, sniffling, and weakly calling for soup. The dreaded "man cold" has struck again. Here's how to handle it:

Identify the enemy - understand the "man cold." Is the "man cold" an urban myth? Or do men really get hit harder with a cold? Unfortunately, science doesn't have a definite answer for us. But one study does shed some light. This study found that, in a group of men and women with colds, men were more likely than women to "overrate" their symptoms (to see them as being worse than they actually are). No one really knows why this happens, but there are many theories. Maybe being sick gives men a break from having to act tough. Or maybe men just don't feel the same need to doggedly stick to their daily routine the way women do when they are ill. Whatever the reason, there's something about a cold that can make even the toughest guy retreat to his bed.

Stock up. Have supplies on hand to fight the fearsome "man cold":

  • cold remedies
  • tissues - with lotion to help his chapped nose
  • hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays to help keep the cold from spreading petroleum jelly for his raw nose
  • thermometer to check for fever
  • humidifier to moisten the air (aim for a humidity of at least 50%)
  • chicken soup (mom was right - it really does help)

Keep him hydrated (if he isn't already calling for drinks). Encourage him to drink plenty of fluids such as warm water with lemon, decaffeinated tea, juice, or clear broth. If he has a sore throat, give him a popsicle. It can do double duty by soothing his sore throat and also helping him stay hydrated. Don't offer him drinks with alcohol and caffeine (these can be dehydrating).

Help him rest (chances are he's already lying down). A good night's sleep is essential to help tame the "man cold." Use a humidifier to moisten the air and offer him a night-time cold remedy to help relieve his cold symptoms so he can get the restful sleep he needs.

Know when to call in reinforcements. Sometimes your man isn't just "wimping out" over a cold. Encourage him to see a doctor if his cold lasts more than 7 to 10 days, if he has a fever that lasts more than 24 hours, if his throat is very sore, if he has trouble breathing, or if he makes strange sounds when he breathes. Men with underlying lung problems such as asthma or emphysema should also see their doctor when they have a cold.

Take care of yourself too. Don't forget that your man isn't the only one who needs some TLC. Wash your hands frequently to help reduce your risk of getting sick (if you aren't sick already), take some time for yourself, and try to get plenty of rest.

Clean up after the "man cold." While your man is sick, keep him contained in one "sick room." After the cold is done, make a clean sweep of your home, taking extra care to wash towels in hot water and disinfect cold germ "hotspots" such as the TV remote (which may have been a constant companion for your man), laptop and mouse, light switches, telephones, bathroom faucets, toilet flush handle, and door knobs.