Man flu: Urban myth or scientific reality?

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Probably since the dawn of time women have thrown their hands up in despair as their men folk insist that they've succumbed to the dreaded "man flu" and take to their beds for days at a time moaning and groaning about their plight.

Lead researcher Dr Kyle Sue from the Memorial University of Newfoundland found fellas have weaker immune systems when it comes to dealing with chest, cold and flu bugs. "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".

"I searched PubMed/MedLine, EMBASE, Cochrane, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar using combinations and variants of terms "man"/'male, ' "woman"/'female, ' "gender"/'sex, ' "influenza"/'flu, ' 'viral, ' 'respiratory, ' 'common cold, ' 'difference, ' 'comparison, ' 'intensive care, '" Sue said of his method of research.

"Kyle Sue explores whether men are wimps or just immunologically inferior".

Despite this research, a study commissioned by Well Pharmacy claimed that women reckon their partners embellish their "illness" when suffering from man-flu. Men may really experience worse symptoms than women after catching a respiratory virus, a new review suggests.

"Despite the universally high incidence and prevalence of viral respiratory illnesses, no scientific review has examined whether the term man flu is appropriate or accurate".

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For many acute respiratory diseases, males are also more susceptible to complications and exhibit a higher mortality.

And, a study quoted by Dr. Sue showed that men with higher testosterone levels had a lower immune response to influenza vaccines, which indicates that testosterone may have an immunosuppressive role.

WHEN a man complains of cold or flu symptoms, it may not be fair to dismiss his laments as simply a case of "man flu".

Other scientists, though, argue there's still too little evidence to say man flu exists. (...) I think everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt when they are ill'. He adds, "Perhaps now is the time for male-friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort".

Your (male) CORDIS writer thoroughly endorses this idea!

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