New research suggests that man flu is actually a real thing
Man flu has become a term widely used across the world, especially at this time of year. While masculine behavior tends to more typically involve burying feelings and keeping problems to ourselves, man flu involves a lot of complaining over not much.
The way I was taught as a child was that if there's fifty bucks in cash available outside your front door, someone truly suffering from the flu would not have the willpower to head out and get it. If you can imagine braving the cold to grab some money, you might just be suffering from a bout of man flu rather than anything serious.
But is the concept of man flu accurate in any way? We are used to hearing about it by now, but one doctor insists that man flu isn't just the exaggeration of dudes looking for sympathy, but a real thing stemming from a weaker immune system.
Dr Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, has conducted a new study based on various research that has been taken over the years. Analysing these other studies, he claims to have found evidence that men have a higher risk of hospital admission and higher rates of influenza-associated deaths compared with women.
On top of this, men are supposedly more susceptible to complications and have a higher mortality rate from acute respiratory diseases - with some evidence supported the idea that this is due to men having a less robust immune system.
“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 said. “This is shown in the fact that they [have] worse symptoms, they last longer, they are more likely to be hospitalised and more likely to die from it.”
His study was published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal), where he suggested that while this may look like a disadvantage, it may have its own evolutionary benefits:
"Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women"
"Mounting immune responses to clear viruses requires metabolic resources that might otherwise be used for other biological processes such as growth, secondary sex characteristics, and reproduction"
"Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed, or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionary behaviours that protect against predators"
While that last sentence must be tongue-in-cheek, the study is breaking new ground. No scientific study has explicitly carried out to determine whether the term man flu is an accurate term to use, but Sue's analysis and collection of other relevant research out there is the first to suggest that maybe men do have a harder time fighting off illness.
If his work is anything to go by, man flu might be a less ridiculous term than we've always thought.