Do men suffer more from the 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.
In addition to this, it was reported that men may take longer to recover from flu symptoms compared to women. As previously discussed, this is thought to date back to the early men where prolonged rest was required to conserve energy and avoid predators.
Also, the hormonal differences between males and females may play a part. The study found that males with the highest levels of testosterone tended to have a lower antibody response. A good antibody response may reduce the severity of flu; therefore, it is possible that vaccinated men don't respond as well to flu vaccinations and so may experience worse symptoms than woman.
There may also be a connection between the female hormone oestradiol and the severity of flu symptoms in women. In test tube studies of nasal cells infected with influenza, oestradiol reduced immune response in female cells, but not in male cells. Since flu symptoms are largely due to the body's immune response, a reduced immune response in women may mean that they experience less severe symptoms.
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 previously discussed, it's not the virus that causes the problem, it's the male immune system. Symptoms of Man Flu include:
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Fever and headaches
- Aching and fatigue
- Problems sleeping
- Sickness and diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite.
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.
If you're looking for a warm and soothing meal to kick your flu symptoms, check out our soup recipes! There are lots of nutritious soup ideas, such as Broccoli & Potato Soup, that are filled with healthy ingredients to boost your immune system and help you fight infection.
If you would like 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.
Originally written 28 February 2018 (updated 17 December 2019)
What you said!
We recently ran a poll to find out if you think Man Flu actually exists. We've crunched the numbers and here are the results.
Results: Do you think Man Flu actually exists?
58.5% of you said that you don't think Man Flu actually exists. This is no surprise, as for many years Man Flu has been seen as a myth. However, there is recent research to suggest it may not be!