It’s long been thought that when it comes to flu season, women are made of sterner stuff. While they dab on some Vicks and get on with their snot-drenched day, men are struck down by the dreaded ‘man flu’.
That means more coughing, more whining and more hassle for the partners who need to deliver them on-demand Lemsip and attention. ‘Man Flu’ is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as "a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms" – but could it actually be that men suffer worse from flu symptoms than women?
According to Dr. Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor in family medicine at Memorial University in St. Johns, there’s evidence that might be true.
"I think the symptoms are real," Sue said. "And they're worse."
The doctor decided to investigate the phenomenon after getting criticised for his behaviour while sick.
"I've been criticized for exaggerating my symptoms when I had the flu," he told CBC News. "I thought. You know what? This would be an interesting topic to look into."
In his journal, he says that no scientific review has looks at whether man flu "is appropriately defined or just an ingrained pejorative term with no scientific basis."
"Since about half of the world's population is male, deeming male viral respiratory symptoms as 'exaggerated' without rigorous scientific evidence could have important implications for men," he wrote.
Sue states that many studies show that men have weaker immune systems than women.
"Testosterone is a hormone that actually acts as an immunosuppressant. Whereas estrogen works in the opposite direction. They stimulate the immune system," he told CBC News. "So men with higher testosterone actually end up being more susceptible to viral respiratory and tend to get them worse."
But there are benefits to a weaker immune system, according to the doctor.
"Perhaps now is the time for male-friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort."
Needless to say, the people of Twitter had a lot to say on the matter:
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.