Debunking 'man flu' in 3 arguments

Debunking 'man flu' in 3 arguments
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A man goes down feeling unwell, saying that he’s really suffering, and the claim goes out – ‘he’s got man flu!’ While this comment is light-hearted and flu in men is commonly seen as no worse than it is in women, it’s a debate that continues. So, how do we know whether man flu exists? You might even be asking what is man flu? Here, we’ll investigate the research and highlight some of the main man flu symptoms.

What is man flu?

In simple terms, ‘man flu’ is the same as ‘anyone flu ’! Flu symptoms in males appear in much the same way as they do with everyone else. However, it’s often said that man flu symptoms are much worse than ‘normal flu’ – and that’s one of the main arguments for a different label. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills and sweats.

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Talk of ‘man flu’ is generally light-hearted – the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines it as: ‘A cold or similar minor illness that a man catches and treats as if it were flu or something more serious.’

But there is academic research from Canada that backs up three of the main arguments surrounding flu in men:

1. Men suffer more with the flu

While it can’t be definitively argued that flu symptoms in males are worse overall, there is evidence to suggest that when flu is serious it’s worse for men. An academic study in Canada, which was published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal), looked into hospitalisation and deaths caused by flu in men versus flu in women found that the rate was higher.

2. Men are more susceptible to the flu

Test-tube studies looking into cells infected with flu found that oestrogen (the female hormone) provides better protection for women. The takeaway from that? Men’s immune systems aren’t as strong, so this helps the argument that men are more susceptible to getting flu, and could be one reason why some men complain that their symptoms are worse too.

3. Men take longer to get over the flu

Are you in the camp that believes that men take longer to get over the flu, and that’s evidence that man flu really does exist? Well, you may be happy to hear that a UK men’s weekly magazine found that men reported taking almost twice as long to get over the illness than women.

Though the question of whether man flu exists has not been conclusively answered, initial research indicates that there may well be evidence to support the claims. We can wait for further studies for confirmation, but anyone who’s unwell, man flu or not, appreciates a little sympathy!


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