According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the “man flu” is defined as a “cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.” But, according to new research, those poor guys may not be exaggerating their despair—women just have stronger immune systems and coping mechanisms.
In the published report on the science of the man flu, Dr. Kyle Sue, an assistant professor of family medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, says he sought to get to the bottom of it as a result of feeling “tired of being accused of overreacting.”
He notes research that shows men are hospitalized at higher rates than women worldwide for the flu and respiratory illnesses. This, Sue suggests, indicates men have “weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women.”
To combat the man flu, Sue has a few ideas:
“There are benefits to energy conservation when ill. Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed, or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionarily behaviors that protect against predators. 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.”
This may not provide much comfort to the women left to pick up some slack while men convalesce, there is one key takeaway: If Sue’s right and it’s time to rethink stereotypes about the “man flu,” then it’s also appropriate for us to revisit old cliches about the “stronger sex.”
For more evidence:
- Recent research shows women live longer than men because they are evolutionarily more “robust.”
- As of July 2017, 42 of the 43 oldest living people were women.
- Estrogen gives our immune systems an advantage.
- And, finally, that little thing called “child birth.”
Of course, this shouldn’t make men feel bad. Or, at least, any worse than they already do when they come down with a case of the sniffles.?