One researcher has taken up the challenge to study and prove that the so-called “man flu” is real.
For years, the validity of man flu, the non-medical term coined to describe the condition where males appear to be a bit “overly” dramatic when they are sick from a minor cold or illness, has been the subject of many debates in both the medical world and in many households.
However, men may now rest their case as a most recent study conducted by a researcher from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada appears to support the existence of the dreaded man flu scientifically. In a paper published in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Kyle Sue provided relevant evidence linked to the condition.
“Despite the universally high incidence and prevalence of viral respiratory illnesses, no scientific review has examined whether the term ‘man flu’ is appropriately defined or just an ingrained pejorative term with no scientific basis,” Sue, a clinical assistant professor, begins.#ManFlu is real according to a recent study conducted by a Canadian doctor.Click To Tweet
“Tired of being accused of over-reacting, I searched the available evidence to determine whether men really experience worse symptoms and whether this could have any evolutionary basis.”
“Kyle Sue explores whether men are wimps or just immunologically inferior.” – BMJ
But, before we dig deeper into the research conducted by the good doctor, we would like to emphasize that Sue’s study is part of BMJ’s Christmas issue and it is not peer-reviewed, yet.
Just so you know, BMJ tends to feature somewhat jocular studies as part of its Christmas edition. Just check out the paper they published in December 2015 about how the zombie virus outbreak could be stopped.
Is Man Flu Real?
For his research, Sue compiled several previous studies that were done on both mice and human behavior–some scientific, some not so much. Interestingly enough, Sue found out that men indeed experience worse cold symptoms than women.
“I do think that the research does point towards men having a weaker immune response when it comes to common viral respiratory infections and the flu,” Sue explained. “This is shown in the fact that they [have] worse symptoms, they last longer, they are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to die from it.”
Furthermore, Sue also suggests that men are more susceptible to complications and have higher chances of dying from severe respiratory diseases. In one of the mouse studies Sue managed to pull out, it was revealed that testosterone could dampen a male’s response to influenza while the female’s sex hormones can boost it.
Also, a few studies conducted on small groups of humans suggested that cells from pre-menopausal women showed different immune responses to the type of virus responsible for the common cold as compared to men.
The man flu study also pointed out several surveys conducted in recent years showing men having higher rates of deaths linked to flu compared to women of the same age. The research also mentioned a previous survey by a popular magazine showing data that men took twice as long to recover from viral illnesses than women.
“Since about half of the world’s population is male, deeming male viral respiratory symptoms as ‘exaggerated’ without rigorous scientific evidence could have important implications for men, including insufficient provision of care,” Sue writes.
Near the end of his paper, Sue admitted that his study has not taken into account other so-called difference between men and women like smoking and self-care habits.
“There need to be more studies, higher quality studies that control for other factors between men and women before we can definitely say that this difference in immunity exists,” Sue told the Guardian. “Is it that women are more resilient, that they are able to juggle more when they are ill, or is it that they don’t have as severe symptoms? That we are not too sure about. But I think everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt when they are ill.”