Man Flu: Myth or Reality?
Jan 12 2018 Read 765 Times
Man flu - ‘A cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms’, as stated by Oxford English Dictionary.
Until recently, Man flu has been accepted by society as a fabrication of a common cold presented as a life-threatening illness. However, new research now suggests that society may have been wrong all along, and that our preconceived perceptions of ‘manning up’ have muffled the helpless cries of men across the world who are in fact suffering from man flu.
Why do men seem to suffer from ‘man flu’ and not women?
To start with, the name ‘Man flu’ is slightly farfetched, as it is not a flu specifically targeting men – it is merely the same strain of the influenza virus that all humans are able to catch regardless of whether they are male or female.
Dr Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor from Canada, set out to test the reality of man flu by reviewing previous studies to establish whether men really were suffering to the extent they portrayed. Sue found that although the same influenza virus attacks both men and women, men are at a greater risk of influenza-associated deaths and hospital admissions, demonstrating that the effects of the influenza virus seem to be more prominent within males.
He also suggests that males with higher levels of testosterone seem to suffer more so from the symptoms of the flu than those with lower levels, arguing that testosterone may have an immunosuppressive role. This would suggest that female immune systems may be stronger and more resilient than males, meaning they are able to cope with illness better.
Is Dr Sue’s evidence enough?
Although the above evidence could suggest that the effects of the influzena virus on males may be what is known as man flu, Sue does state that he did not take into consideration lifestyle habits from either sex. Further studies may show that lifestyle traits commonly found in one sex more than the other, such as smoking and drinking, may have a bigger effect on the body’s overall response to illness.
He concludes that if ‘man flu’ is to be recognised as an issue within itself, more high-quality research needs to be conducted. Essentially, he suggests, a line needs to be drawn between men coping badly with illness due to their weaker immune system, and those that simply exaggerating their symptoms. For now, it seems all we can do is give the individual in question the benefit of the doubt when they’re not feeling too great…
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