Fact or Fiction: Is “Man Flu” An Actual Illness?

man flu

Fact or Fiction: Is “Man Flu” An Actual Illness?

It’s said that men tend to exaggerate the symptoms when they’re down with a cold, pretending to be sicker than they really are. The tendency is so common that this phenomenon became known as “the man flu”.  But is it true that a man will pretend to be ‘deathly ill’ compared to a woman experiencing the same symptoms of a cold?

Several studies have been conducted to explain the issue of “the man flu”. Findings from all of the research studies seem to suggest a physiological reason for the different ways men and women respond to viral respiratory infections. The hormones produced by men, in particular, testosterone and cortisol, play a significant role in determining how the body reacts to an attack of the influenza virus.

Women naturally have low levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone, as well as the stress hormone, cortisol. It explains the ability of women to show less severe symptoms; their immunity is stronger since it’s less affected by the hormones. Women also tend to recover earlier than men, and their response to the flu vaccine is markedly better.

One notable study on “the man flu” was conducted by Dr. Kyle Sue, a professor of family medicine at a Canadian university. She looked into studies carried out in the past on the behavior of men when they’re sick with a cold. The report of her review confirms the unfairness that men are subjected to when they’re said to fake the severity of cold symptoms.

Dr. Sue’s review indicates that men tend to have an immune system that’s weak compared to women. As a result, infections affect them more frequently, and they also take longer to recover. Testosterone, the male sex hormone, is the main culprit, with research showing it weakens the immunity of men. The higher the levels of this hormone a man has running through his body, the more the severity of the symptoms of a viral respiratory infection. Scientists explain this as being evolutionarily beneficial, though. Because it subjects men to staying indoors when sick, they’re less exposed to danger, and their survival is assured so they can continue to provide for their families.

Men also respond poorly to the flu vaccine. The reason, according to research, is again their high levels of testosterone. It’s a hormone necessary for masculinity, but sadly, one that suppresses the ability of the body to resist infections of the respiratory system.

The bottom line of Dr. Sue’s review is that, after all, men are not faking sickness when they become bedridden after of attack of the influenza virus. There’s more to it than just exaggeration to earn sympathy. They cant help it since it’s their immunity that’s unable to fight back strongly. Man flu is only a misconception; it’s only that women have low levels of testosterone and stress hormones, cortisol and so exhibit stronger immunity.

Dr. Sue says the results of the existing studies cannot be used to give a conclusive reason for “the man flu”. She says more lab research is needed, instead of relying on epidemiological research results. Only then can the possibility of “the man flu” having a psychological dimension be ruled out.

Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.

Dr. Reddy is currently conducting clinical trials. If you think you may be interested in participating in one of our trials, please feel free to contact our office.  Study related medication, procedures, and doctor’s visits are FREE for clinical trial participants, and you will also be compensated for your participation.For more information, please contact Barbara, our Research Coordinator, at 714-968-6789.