Published: Tue, December 12, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

'Man flu' could be real, say scientists

No scientific study has ever been carried out before to determine whether the term man flu is appropriate or accurate.

Dr. Sue said his study, while academic based, was personal too.

Dr Sue says: "Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women".

The study examined the rate of hospital admission of men with reported flu and women with reported flu, they found evidence that adult men have a higher risk of hospital admission and higher rates of deaths associated with flu compared with women, regardless of underlying disease. Meanwhile some evidence supports men suffering more from viral respiratory illness than women because they have a less robust immune system.

"Since about half 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 wrote.

One theory is that testosterone boosts aggressive behavior and the development of secondary sexual characteristics and so allows men to win at competitions - overriding the cost of the hormone's immune system suppressing effects.

A doctor from Canada, Dr. Kyle Sue, in his study not only emphasized that men might experience worse cold and flu symptoms than women but also explored as to why there is such a difference.

"There are a couple of studies that show women having more local and systemic reactions to the flu shot than men", he said.

In the end, he said that the current definition of "man flu" - and its mocked status - is unjust.

Sue writes: "Classic modes of energy conservation may include lying on the couch, not getting out of bed, or receiving assistance with basic activities of daily living, which could all be effective for avoiding predators". He added the evidence suggests that, overall, women may be "more responsive to vaccinations than men".

But Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard from the Royal College of Global Positioning System is not convinced.

In an interview, Sue said he gets why women might complain when men don't look as sick as they say they feel.

The study also discusses the concept of an "immunity gap", which is the idea the men simply have weaker immune systems than women.

"The best advice for anyone affected is to rest at home, drink plenty of fluids and to take over-the-counter painkillers", said Stokes-Lampard said.

In calling for the condition of man flu to be reassessed and the stigma attached to it removed, Sue suggests the creation of dedicated treatment facilities.

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