As men, we’ve all been struck by a really bad case of the ‘man flu.’ You know the one: crushing chest pains, pounding headache and shortness of breath. We’re literally on our last legs, then in walks our Missus to say, “Get a grip! It’s just a cold.” Mocking memes and alternative names, such as the “wimpy man syndrome,” have been devised in homage to this. The very idea has become so sensational that it has even been added to the Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries, respectively. According to the former, a ‘man flu’ is defined as “an illness such as a cold that is not serious, but that the person who has it treats as more serious, usually when this person is a man.” But is it really not serious?
The Myth Debunked
At The Guy Bible, we’ve made it our mission to debunk the myth: Is the man flu a real thing? Approximately, half of the global population is male, therefore ignoring such a pressing matter could prove devastating to the future of humanity! At this point, I don’t know whether I’m joking or not.
After a first-hand experience with the illness, Dr. Kyle Sue, from the Health Sciences Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, has explored the concept and published his findings in the British Medical Journal. The clinical scientist became sick and tired (pun intended) of the inflammatory accusations that were made against him and developed a study by analysing previous research that was conducted throughout the years.
From a study on male and female cells, Dr. Sue found that pre-menopausal women (under 45 years old) are more resilient when battling minor illnesses, such as the common cold. This was due to the fact that higher testosterone levels in men suppressed the immune system, while women’s oestrogen levels boosted their immunity. Talk about toxic masculinity! This meant that men were more susceptible to complications, such as diseases, health conditions and treatments, which led to higher mortality rates from numerous acute respiratory diseases.
Yes The Symptoms Are Worse
In addition to this, further findings from studies in the Hong Kong and the US showed that men experience worse symptoms that last longer; therefore, adult men had a higher risk of hospital admission and a higher rate of influenza-related deaths, irrespective of underlying health conditions. So, does this mean the term ‘man flu’ is in fact problematic? If men aren’t actually lying about their experiences, then yes, as this will mean neglecting the necessary medical care required.
Dr. Sue additionally suggested that there is an evolutionary basis behind men’s weaker immune system, which traced back to our cavemen ancestors. According to the clinical scientist, “Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionary behaviours that protected us against predators,” since it stopped them from going out to hunt in a vulnerable state. As a result, he encourages the world to embrace “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.”
Ok. Maybe It’s Not As Bad As We Said
Admittedly, I was on board with Dr. Kyle Sue’s theories but now I’m questioning the credibility of this study. My Missus is never going to fall for this. It’s no surprise that other scientists from around the world are questioning these findings too. For example, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, who is Chair of the Royal College of GPs, suggested that the term ‘man flu’ is sexist and the illness does not exist. In fact, the professor suggests that it is dangerous to convince people otherwise since there is little science to back it up and therefore, cure it.
Furthermore, the studies failed to take into consideration the different habits between the men and women, such as smoking habits, diet or circumstances. Or the fact that men are worse at looking after themselves and seeking medical care than women. Come on, we all know it’s true! A couple of ibuprofens washed down with a Red Bull and we’re good to go. Hospitalisation statistics were a big factor in Dr. Sue’s study; however, Sabra L. Klein, from the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, pointed out that there are parts of the world where women have less access to healthcare, which may have contributed to a bias interpretation of the data.
In fairness, Dr. Sue did admit that despite the need for higher-quality studies surrounding this subject, everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt when struck down with an illness.
Whether or not the ‘man flu’ is real, we can’t win. If it isn’t real, we’re exaggerating and need to man up and if it is real, then we’re the weaker gender. To be honest, we probably are anyway. Just look at what women go through with periods. Have you ever experience the ‘man flu’? Do you know someone that has? If so, let us know your opinion on the subject using the comment section below.