For years, the subject of “man flu” has been the subject of endless humor, often from women. When a man has the sniffles or a cold it is often branded man flu; the assumption being that symptoms are exaggerated and that men are wimps who think they are dying from a minor and trivial ailment. According to Canadian scientist Dr. Kyle Sue, all that may be about to change. Dr. Sue is a clinical assistant professor in family medicine from the Memorial University of Newfoundland and has been reviewing the existing evidence to determine if men really do suffer worse than women when they contract a cold.
According to KEYT, Dr. Sue was tired of being accused of overreaction when he contracted a cold, so he set out to examine whether man flu is real and to challenge the frequently heard stereotype. The conclusion is that man flu may well be real and that further research is needed into the subject.
Dr. Sue found that existing evidence points to men being more susceptible to viral respiratory illnesses like colds and flu. He also suggests that the evidence suggests that men’s symptoms may be more severe than those experienced by women. According to the Evening Standard, Dr. Sue found that existing studies suggest that male hormone testosterone dampens the body’s immune response while the female sex hormone oestradiol had been shown to boost it.
Dr. Sue also cited research showing men in the U.S. are more likely to be hospitalized as a result of flu. Morbidity rates from flu are also disproportionate, with a higher proportion of men dying from flu than women. Dr. Sue also points out that research proves that women respond better to the flu vaccine than men.
As reported by RTE, Dr. Sue’s research found that men suffer higher rates of complications and higher mortality rates from acute respiratory diseases including influenza. The argument suggests that men have a less robust immune system than women. The conclusion seems to be that man flu could be real, but the hypothesis remains untested.
You can’t help but feel that Dr. Sue is speaking with his tongue firmly in-cheek when he suggests that now is the time to create male-friendly spaces “equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort.”