Men have a greater risk of being admitted to the hospital, and higher rates of influenza-associated deaths compared with women, new research in the BMJ suggest.
Call the wambulance, the man flu is real.
The non-medical term — used to make fun of males who may get a bit over dramatic when they have a sniffle or minor cold — has been scientifically proven to be an actual health concern.
It turns out men are more susceptible to complications from being ill than women, according to Dr. Kyle Sue, a Canadian doctor whose findings are published in the British Medical Journal.
Sue compiled several previous studies done on mice and human behavior and found that men have a greater risk of being admitted to the hospital, and higher rates of influenza-associated deaths compared with women. He also suggests that men are more susceptible to suffering complications and even death from severe respiratory diseases. One study he drew from examined cells of 63 healthy people that found premenopausal women had a stronger immune response to viruses than those from men the same age. Other research observing mice found that testosterone could be to blame for suppressing men’s immune systems, while a female sex hormone is said to strengthen women’s.
Some women have already observed more of the dramatic instances of the “man flu” first hand, and are terrified to tell their partners there could be factual evidence to back it up.
“I’m kind of nervous for men to find out the man flu is real,” Leah Rutliff, a social media coordinator from Kansas City tells Moneyish.
Rutliff moved in with her boyfriend recently and experienced the ugly reality of her man’s “flu.”
“I could tell it was going to happen because he started talking in this really weird voice — a whiney and mopey tone, before he mentioned he didn’t feel well. He sounded like a mix between a sick puppy and a really aggressive dinosaur. It was horrific,” Rutliff recalls.
The 23-year-old got home from work at 5:30 p.m. to find her 26-year-old boyfriend sitting on the couch moping in Star Wars pajamas.
“It was as if he was a child. He was covered up shivering as if this was the apocalypse. The best part is he didn’t even have the flu — it was allergies. I gave him Zyrtec and it worked like a charm,” she says.
If her boyfriend ever has to combat the flu she’s giving him a double dose of tough love.
“I try to baby him as little as possible. When he is sick I’m like ‘Dude you’re on your own,’” she says.
The term “man flu” is a phrase that’s been so widely used it’s included in the dictionary. Oxford defines it as “a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.”
Others cases of the “man flu” have gotten more severe.
“My boyfriend is an only child in his 30s and his mother, who has her own key to the apartment, comes over with chicken soup because he ‘has the flu,’ it’s really just a common cold,” quips Kelsey Gorry, 26.
But Sue argues that men have a legitimate reason to whine.
“I do think that the research does point towards men having a weaker immune response when it comes to common viral respiratory infections and the flu,” Sue told The Guardian. “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.”
But other doctors don’t think enough research has been done to jump to the conclusion that men’s immune systems are weaker than women’s.
“That’s a difficult claim to size up. It requires more study,” says Dr. Louis Morledge, an Internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “There’s a subset of men who try not to seek out medical attention or medical care and try to tough through things and hence later their presented with more exaggerated and advanced symptoms. Then when something does develop it may be very striking to them,” he adds.
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