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Is the ‘Man Flu’ Real?

Feel vindicated yet, guys?
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Anyone who has ever had any contact with a “sick” man before knows that man flu is real. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “man flu” is a “cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.” Basically, too sick to unload the dishwasher, but not so sick that he can’t stay up until midnight watching sports. (True story.)

But what if millions and millions and millions of women are wrong? What if men really do experience the terrible, debilitating effects of a runny nose more than women do?

According to a tongue-in-cheek article published in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal, they just might. (Previous articles in the Christmas edition, while still evidence-based, included topics like why Rudolph’s nose is red, and the history of zombie infections in literature.)

Canadian professor Kyle Sue, who teaches family medicine at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, said he was “tired of being accused of over-reacting” when he got sick, so he set out to debunk the “myth” of the man flu.

Sue analyzed previous studies—some scientific, some less so—to explain why men may actually experience worse cold and flu symptoms than women, and to posit the evolutionary basis for such differences. His conclusion: “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. This is shown in the fact that they [have] worse symptoms, they last longer, they are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to die from it.”

To read more, please continue to page 2.

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  • Ali Wilkinson is a lawyer and writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, Elephant Journal and Scary Mommy, among others. She blogs at Run, Knit, Love.

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