Man flu may be real, study suggests

An article published by a Canadian physician reviews medical studies going back to the 17th century on the role of gender in influenza

Dreamstime An article published by a Canadian physician reviews medical studies going back to the 17th century on the role of gender in influenza

Scientists have confirmed that the "man flu" is real.

Medical professional also deserve some of the blame, Sue says, since "clinical observers are more ready to...under-rate men's symptoms".

Other clues indicated that man flu is not an overreaction.

The news may be filled with stories of entitled men misusing their power over women.

However, it's one Newfoundland doctor that has publicly stood up to say, yes the man flu is a real thing and there could be a real reasons as to why the opposite gender handles getting sick so differently from women. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that men suffer from more respiratory illnesses than women because they have less robust immune systems. "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".

The Oxford Living Dictionary defines "man flu" as "A cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms".

He notes there are numerous potential weaknesses in the "immunity gap" theory, including that it doesn't always consider other influences on the flu such as the rates of smoking and whether men are more or less likely to take preventive measures against the flu.

In hisBritish Medical Journal article, Dr Sue writes: "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".

"Studies of influenza vaccination suggest that women are more responsive to vaccination than men".

A study that isolated cells from 63 healthy people and infected the cells with a common virus found the cells from women had a stronger immune response than those from men.

The results of the study suggested that men may have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses.

The analysis was published December 11 in the BMJ.

Quoting evolutionary theorists (and acknowledging the possibility of "author bias"), Sue wonders this: If males burnt up their energies fighting off infections, would it have been a costly distraction from their strategy of attracting sexual partners by growing bigger, stronger and faster?

"Epidemiologic data from Hong Kong showed that adult men had a higher risk of hospital admission for flu", Sue said.

"Men are regularly stereotyped to exaggerate cold and flu symptoms", Sue noted.

"Medically treating both genders exactly the same will do both genders a disservice", Sue said. "Much more work needs to be done to figure out whether differences exists and, if so, what biological mechanisms might explain them".

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