Researchers looking to explain why married men tend to live longer may want to consider the case of Max Tischler.
As CBS4 Denver reports, a man from Grand County, Colorado was cleaning out a garage at work when he came across some mouse droppings. The garage was generally clean and tidy, but that didn’t matter in this case. While cleaning up the droppings, Tischler says he must have “aerosolized” them, exposing himself to hantavirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hantavirus is carried by rodents, including deer mice, cotton rats, rice rats, and white-footed mice. Humans can be infected with hantavirus through contact with an infected rodent, its urine, or droppings.
Once infected, the disease can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) which is fatal 38 percent of the time. Symptoms of HPS begin between one and eight weeks after exposure and include fever, headache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches, stomach issues, and chills. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid.
Unfortunately, because the early symptoms of HPS mimic those of the flu, it can be easy to misdiagnose yourself. And that’s exactly what Tischler did.
Tischler told CBS4 that when he started feeling sick, he was prepared to tough it out. What saved him was his wife’s insistence that he see a doctor:
“I had flu-like symptoms and I was just going to ride it out, but my wife was encouraging me to go to the doctor.”
Tischler gave in and got the medical care he didn’t realize he needed. Doctors diagnosed him with a hantavirus infection. Then followed two weeks in the hospital and several days in intensive care — including some time in an induced coma.
Tischler doesn’t remember much after the coma, but told CBS4 that he now knows his wife’s “nagging” saved his life:
“If I would’ve waited another day or two instead of trying to ride out the flu-like symptoms, I probably would not be here talking to you.”
In other words, Tischler is alive and healthy because he is married. And that’s not uncommon. According to Harvard Medical School, studies have found that on average, married men live longer and are healthier than those who never married or have been divorced. Moreover, men whose wives are highly educated have a lower risk for coronary artery disease.
In addition, married men go to the doctor more often — according the Associated Press, which cites a 2014 CDC study which found that among men aged 45 to 64, 83 percent of married men had been to the doctor in the previous year compared to 74 percent of single men and 69 percent of those living with a significant other.
In other words — as Tischler would no doubt agree — marriage is good for men’s health.