Man flu is real and men really do get pole-axed by the symptoms, according to medical researchers.
For decades, women have railed against the idea that men suffer from a worse bout of the flu than they do.
But Canadian scientists have published a study in the British Medical Journal hinting that there is evidence to believe men have a weaker immune system than women and suffer tougher bouts of respiratory diseases.
Dr Kyle Sue, author of the study and an assistant professor of family medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, says he has found good evidence to suggest have an immunity gap that makes them more susceptible to flu symptoms than women – although he says his findings are “certainly not definitive.”
Women show a different response to vaccines that fight the flu, he argues.
Nothing to sniff at
“There are a couple of studies that show women having more local and systemic reactions to the flu shot than men,” he said. “Evidence suggests that women may be more responsive to vaccinations than men.”
Other clues indicate that man flu is not an exaggeration.
“Epidemiologic data from Hong Kong showed that adult men had a higher risk of hospital admission for flu,” Sue said. Studies have shown that men die more often from flu compared with same-age women, regardless of underlying heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and kidney diseases.
“However, neither study differentiated men and women based on other differences, like smoking and drinking rates or willingness to seek medical help,” he said.
Flu isn’t sexist
Sue have evidence in favour of the idea that men suffer more from viral respiratory illnesses than women because they have less-robust immune systems.
Sue and other medical professionals all say the best way to treat man flu is to stock up on over-the-counter pain killers and drink plenty of fluids.
The condition should go away after a few days, but if the symptoms persist or sufferers have breathing problems, then go to a doctor.
Although doctors may argue that flu is the same for men and women, Sue did note in his study that more women than men seem to have written papers about man flu.