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In Sickness....
It's still Dr. Mom!
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"When he's sick, he needs me. That's why I help him. When I'm sick, I go comatose and he's always poking at me! "You OK?" I know he's trying to help me, but he drives me crazy!"
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• Who's Sniffling Where?
Looking back about 50 years to the 1950's, when anyone in the house got the flu or was feeling under the weather, family members, including Dad, relied on Mom to make them feel better.

Fast forward to the 2000's, and according to a recent survey sponsored by the Bayer Corporation, things haven't changed. Dr. Mom is still taking care of everyone when they are ill. Paul Iannini, M.D., the Chief Scientific Advisor for the RTIalert, is also the Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, CT, and Professor at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. When asked about the survey, he said it was done because this hasn't been looked at since the 1950's when most families were in single earner households. Today, most families are in two income households, and more kids are in day care facilities. Bayer was curious if these changes had any impact on what happens when someone gets sick.

The RTIalert Survey, focused on Respiratory Tract Infections (RTI). These include bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, and pneumonia. According to Dr. Iannini, "the research supports the stereotype of ‘Dr. Mom’ managing the healthcare needs for her family." Since many of these moms are also working outside the home, they have an added burden when illness hits.

Without good communication skills, this added burden could negatively impact a marriage. Bottom line, if either one of you is suffering from a cold or flu or just feel miserable for a few days, talk about it. Let one another know your expectations. If you are sick, do you just want to be left alone? If you are the healthy one, do you have the time to pamper a sick spouse? Without sharing feelings and thoughts right away, a couple can have unnecessary misunderstandings and arguments.

Although 65 percent said they take care of themselves, more women than men seem to do this (69 vs. 58 percent). Of that other 35 percent who said someone else takes care of them when ill, 26 percent noted that it was their spouse or partner. Additionally, when sick, a plurality of respondents (46 percent) said they depend on their spouse or partner to look after day-to-day necessities, work, or family needs.

Conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International, the survey of 2,022 Americans, revealed regional differences in managing RTIs. Apparently if you live in the North Central and South, you just want to be left alone. If you live in the West and Northeast, you say 'rest' is your favorite treatment when sick. Totals however showed that 73 percent of those surveyed prefer to be left alone when they have an RTI, while only 25 percent like to be pampered or cared for.

The majority of respondents with RTIs prefer to sleep when home sick (51 percent). Other activities included watching TV (20 percent), reading (13 percent), working (6 percent), and surfing the web (3 percent). It wasn't a surprise to see that 'feeling lousy' was named as the worst thing about being sick (61 percent). Second was 'can't take care of the family' at 14 percent, and 'missing work' came in third with 13 percent. However more than twice as many women than men chose not being able to care for their family.


Some other survey findings:

  • More than twice as many women than men say the worst thing about being sick is that they can’t take care of their family (17 vs. 8 percent)
  • Women are more likely than men to say they take care of themselves while they have a RTI.
  • Men are almost twice as likely as women to report that their spouse takes care of them while they are sick.
  • More women than men felt guilty about missing responsibilities while sick with an RTI (15 vs. 9 percent).
  • Young adults prefer pampering. Adults age 18 to 34 were far more likely to want to be pampered than older adults (36percent vs. 21 percent).
  • Older adults opt for being left alone.
  • More women actually get RTIs than men (38 vs. 24 percent).
  • Women manage their own health more aggressively than men. Women report that they go to the doctor sooner (49 percent of women vs. 38 percent of men). Nearly nine of ten respondents (87 percent) saw a doctor for their RTI, with more women than men (90 vs. 82 percent) going. 45 percent of the total population saw a doctor within 1 to 3 days.
  • When looking at prevention and treatment, the following data was revealed:

  • Hand washing was believed to be the best strategy to avoid an RTI (32 percent women, and 19 percent men).

  • Belief in vitamins and supplements (22 percent).

  • Avoiding sick people (12 percent).

  • Avoiding crowds (10 percent).

  • The favorite RTI remedy (47 percent) was prescription drugs.

  • Over-the-counter medications came in at 24 percent.

  • Lots of rest garnered 14 percent.
  • The impact of an RTI illness is generally missing work or school (52 percent).
  • According to the press release, this telephone survey was conducted between October 19-30, 2000 among a national probability sample of 2,022 adults (1,008 men and 1,014 women) 18 years of age and older. The interviews were weighted by age, sex, geographic region, and race. Results of the sub-sample of qualifying respondents who had RTIs are accurate plus or minus 4 percent, 95 percent of the time. The total sample of respondents is accurate to plus or minus 3 percent, 95 percent of the time.

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