Man flu is real, according to scientists

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And he notes that no scientific review has properly examined the phenomenon.

Sue also cited two "studies of influenza vaccination suggest that women are more responsive to vaccination than men".

"I do think that the research does point towards men having a weaker immune response when it comes to common viral respiratory infections and the flu", said Sue. According to him "there are already many physiological differences between men and women, so it makes sense that we could differ in our responses to cold and flu viruses as well", reported the Health Day.

Sue suggests that dismissing men as malingerers who exaggerate their symptoms, without evidence to support the accusation, is unscientific and "could have important implications for men, including insufficient provision of care".

So, he performed a literature search, using combinations of terms such as "man/male, "woman/female", "flu", "viral" "difference".

Mice aren't the ideal stand-ins for humans.

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For example, one US study that examined flu-related deaths from 1997 to 2007 found that, for adults, within several age groups, the rate of flu-associated mortality was somewhat higher in men than in women, regardless of underlying heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease or kidney disease.

Canadian scientist Kyle Sue of the Memorial University of Newfoundland says his research of "man flu" was personal.

Men are the immunologically inferior sex.

The symptoms are as you would expect: sneezing, coughing, a temperature, sore throat, headache and so on, just with a lot more whinging than if a woman was experiencing it. The study by Stanford University School of Medicine explains that men may actually suffer more when they are struck down with flu because the high levels of testosterone in them can weaken their immune response.

The energy needed to clear their bodies of viruses may have been better invested in other "biological processes", he said, like growth, muscle development and reproduction.

The capability of the immune system to deal with infection has more consequences than the occasional sniffle.

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"Across species", he writes, "the male strategy of "live hard, die young" arising from stronger intra-sexual competition than among females has led to less investment in immunity".

There are benefits to energy conservation when ill, adds Sue.

He said evidence suggests they really are more likely to be left bedbound by their illness.

When he was asked to give an "interesting" two-minute presentation to a group of people from various career backgrounds, he knew that proving that men were not exaggerating "could provide evidence for men around the world to defend themselves". Though it's changing, women generally shoulder more domestic duties.

In the immortal words of The Smiths, "And if they don't believe us now, will they ever believe us?"

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