We often joke about the "Man flu" but is it real? A Canadian researcher who was "tired of being accused of overreacting" decided to prove his case, that the "Man flu" is the real deal.
Men are more susceptible to complications with respiratory diseases that women are. Some men may have a naturally weaker immune system, according to research published Monday in the BMJ medical journal.
When men are sick from a cold or other minor illness we often poke fun at them and say they have the "man flu." Dr. Kyle Sue, author of the study and an assistant professor of family medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada said "It's a frequently heard stereotype."
Dr. Sue was asked to give a two minute presentation to a group of people with different career oriented backgrounds, knowing that proving the man flu really exists and men were not being dramatic; he was providing a defense for men all over the world.
Doing some research for studies that would show whether or not men experience symptoms worse than women do. He figured evolution might play a role in the differences in the genders experiences.
He found substantial amount of evidence that is suggestive of an immunity gap. He said it is not certainly not definitive and other scientists argue there is too little evidence to suggest the man flu exists.
What is the Immunity Gap
"To begin with, women have a different response to vaccines that protect against the flu," said Dr. Sue.
"There are a couple of studies that show women having more local and systemic reactions to the flu shot than men," he said. He added the evidence suggests that, overall, women may be "more responsive to vaccinations than men."There are more clues that show men are not overreacting when it comes to the man flu.
"Epidemiologic data from Hong Kong showed that adult men had a higher risk of hospital admission for flu," Sue said. There was an American study done that showed more men died from the flu than women of the same age group, regardless of underlying heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and kidney diseases.
Neither study took into account other differences such as smoking, drinking, and willingness to seek help from a doctor. These additional factors could change the results of the studies.
There is support for the idea that men suffer more from viral respiratory illness than women do because women have a stronger immune system.
Hormonal differences may also impact the immunity gap, testosterone suppresses the immune system and estradiol protects it.
"It is not commonly known that testosterone is immunosuppressive," Sue said, though "one study found that men with higher testosterone levels had less of an antibody response to vaccination."
If there is an immunity gap between men and women the connection to the evolutionary reasons are unknown. There is a theory that testosterone promotes aggressiveness and secondary sexual characteristics which will suppress the hormones immune system.
There is a second theory that men seem to be more die hard about life that men are more likely to die from a traumatic event than a flu.
"The best advice for anyone affected is to rest at home, drink plenty of fluids and to take over-the-counter painkillers," said Stokes-Lampard. The majority of the time people just need a few days to completely recover not matter their gender. If after three weeks and your symptoms have not improved you should see a doctor.
Despite these contrary opinions, Sue believes that the available research points toward men suffering worse from colds and flu than women, but he called for "much better-quality research" to prove it.
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