Symptoms of Man Flu

Discover what happens to your body when you get man flu, as well as what you can do about it!

Immune System Expert
Ask Dr. Jen Tan

28 February 2018

What is man flu?

When the flu confines a male to the duvet dungeon, instead of warm drinks and sympathy, he’s more likely to be met with a tut or a roll of the eyes. There’s a great deal of stigma attached to man flu but is this unfounded? Well, flu itself is a virus and does not discriminate against men or women so the answer actually lies not with flu, but with the immune system.

In the future we may have to up the sympathetic ante (sorry girls) because actually, recent evidence suggests man flu does exist. A study by Memorial University found that the male immune system is notably weaker than the female’s.    This stems from the existence of cave men when a weaker immune system stopped men from hunting (and probably getting killed) when ill. I’m sure we’ve all heard, through sniffles and coughs, the phrase “I’m dying”. It’s certainly not this bad but, with a weaker immune system, it’s not surprising that the effects of flu become more pronounced for men. 

Symptoms of Man Flu

The lack of sympathy for those in the grips of man flu may actually be down to the symptoms - they do not differ too much from regular flu. However, as we’ve already discussed, it’s not the virus that causes the problem, it’s the male immune system. 

Sore Throat

This is usually the first symptom of man flu to crop up. However, at this point, to avoid admitting to illness, and the possible cold-related sarcasm that would follow such a confession, the male retreats to the sofa with calls of ‘I’m fine’. This comment will become their mantra for the next few hours or days, until eventually their voice becomes increasingly husky and they have to admit defeat. At this point they’ll give up all attempts to hide their illness and will instead reveal, quite regularly, ‘I’m sick’ or ‘my throat hurts’.


Over the next few days say goodbye to your favourite television drama and uninterrupted sleep as the inevitable cough takes hold! At this stage you’ll see him pop cough lozenges like sweeties and slump off to the kitchen to prepare a thick liquid full of honey and lemon (even if he doesn’t like honey). All this is a subtle attempt to vanish the lurgy - the regular cough however, is not so subtle. 

Nasal Congestion

This symptom will be evident if you see tissues littering the floor like confetti at the end of an X Factor final. He’ll also sound a little like Donald Duck.

Fever and Headaches

Fever is unpleasant so if it takes hold he’ll probably look for a little sympathy. You’ll hear muttered calls of ‘why am I so ill?’ and ‘feel my forehead’ whenever you enter the room. If you want to stem the self-pity for a short while then leave a glass of water to keep him hydrated. 

Problems Sleeping

With all these flu symptoms, problems sleeping become the next issue. This usually has an additional, negative effect on mood, appetite and energy. Warning: you’ll hear all about these negative effects as the days drift on.

Sickness and Diarrhoea

At this point the male must go it alone as no family member or friend is willing to risk infection from sickness or diarrhoea. If the male leaves the safety of the bathroom he’ll find his family and friends cautiously circling the house with rubber gloves and an air freshener or two.

Aching and Feeling Tired

Feeling achy and tired doesn’t leave you with a lot of energy so at this stage the male will wind the duvet around him like a protective cocoon and sink into the corners of the sofa. Like the caterpillar-to-butterfly scenario, he patiently awaits the transformation back to full health.  

Loss of Appetite

At this stage you may begin to worry. ‘What’s wrong?’ you ask concerned. ‘Are you not well?’ By this point however, he’s sound asleep on the sofa and you’re left to eat your cold-busting chicken soup alone. 

How to Deal with Man Flu

Despite the extensive and rotten list of man flu symptoms, fear not! There are a number of things you can do to get through this period.

A great place to start would be with a licensed herbal remedy such as Echinaforce. This helps the body fight colds and flu and also strengthens the immune system. It’s particularly effective for man flu because it comes in various forms. There is the Echnaforce Hot Drink and the Echinaforce Sore Throat Spray which both help to soothe symptoms of a cold or flu.

However, if you’re looking for more information on how to beat man flu, you could also read our blog ‘how to beat colds and flu fast’.  This provides a range of suggestions on how to get over a cold.

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