We’ve all heard the term “man flu,” and many women accuse men of overreacting, or tease them when they are ill. It turns out that man flu is actually a real thing – either women are tougher than men (which all women know), or – according to a doctor – men actually do suffer worse symptoms when down with a cold or bout of flu. A report by Newsweek actually suggests that men are weaker than women.

Doctor sick of being teased about ‘man flu’

Dr. Kyle Sue got tired of being ridiculed and accused of overreacting when suffering from a bout of the flu and, rather tongue-in-cheek, decided to look into the issue of "man flu." Using some previous scientific, or not so scientific, studies, Dr.

Sue came up with a treatise that supports men and puts forward the case that they do suffer worse symptoms than women in terms of colds and flu. He also went on to look into why the variance between men and women might have evolved, leading to the controversial term "man flu."

Dr. Sue works as a clinical assistant professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in the field of family medicine. In an article published in the British Medical Journal, he said research does tend to point toward men suffering a weaker Immune Response to flu and viral respiratory infections.

Dr. Sue based his findings on the fact that men suffer worse symptoms and that these last longer. He also added that men are more likely to end up in hospital from their "man flu" symptoms and that they are more likely to die from them.

Various studies reveal differences between men and women

In the article, Dr.

Sue said he had looked at previous studies and puts forward several pieces of evidence to suggest men do in fact experience worse symptoms than their female counterparts in the case of viral respiratory illnesses. He pointed to mouse studies, which have suggested testosterone could cause a dampening of the immune response to flu, while in the case of females, their sex hormones could actually boost their immune response.

Human studies showed cells taken from pre-menopausal women tend to show varying immune responses to a common cold virus to those taken from men of a similar age. Reportedly in the case of post-menopausal females, no difference was seen between those of men of a similar age.

Dr. Sue’s study also highlighted that research run in the US showed men as having higher death rates relating to flu than women at the same age. In Hong Kong, studies showed that men were more likely to end up hospitalized than women with the same strain of seasonal flu. However, the study did also slam the idea men tend to crumble after the first sneeze, by saying one study had shown women are more likely to slow down their activities than men when suffering a minor respiratory illness.

Maybe women take better care of themselves? However, Dr. Sue’s report did also reference a survey run in a popular magazine, which had established men take twice as long to recover than women.

Dr. Sue did admit the "man flu" studies used didn’t take into account other aspects, such as how much patients smoked or the fact that men tend to be worse at looking after their health than women. He wrote that one major cause of "man flu" could be the fact that males receive an insufficient provision of healthcare when suffering from the flu. He went on to say more high-quality studies are required to definitively prove a there is a difference in immunity between males and females. He said it’s either a case that women are actually more resilient, or that they are better able to handle things when they are ill, or whether they do, in fact, have fewer severe symptoms.

Make a comfortable space for 'man flu' sufferers

Dr. Sue concluded by saying everyone should get the benefit of the doubt when ill, rather than being teased. He suggested that possibly more male-friendly spaces should be set up for male patients while suffering from "man flu," with comfortable reclining chairs and huge televisions, so they can recover in comfort and safety.

Dr. Sue also said he hopes his study will be something for men to point to when criticized for exaggerating their symptoms. So ladies, take pity on your suffering man. If Dr. Sue is right, he is feeling the flu harder than you are.