BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

Is 'man flu' a real illness?

12:46 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Scientists suggest men may have a weaker immune system and could be more vulnerable to so-called 'man flu'. Is 'man flu' a myth?

Evolutionary factors and hormonal differences may make males more susceptible to infection than females, says a Cambridge University team. However, a leading flu expert says there is no difference in immune systems between men and women.

Previous experiments by the Cambridge team have found differences in the ability of females and males to deal with infection. High testosterone levels, they say, lead to more coughs and colds.

Could evolution make men more prone to coughs and colds? Are you a man who takes a long time to recover from flu? Do men suffer from flu more than women? Do women complain more than men?

The NHS asks: is 'man flu' real or myth?

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Dunno about 'Man Flu' but everyone I know in the lower levels of employment (ie. the working bit) is run-down.

  • Comment number 2.

    Maybe in society there is more pressure on women to somehow be able to juggle everything regardless, or maybe this is as much a SELF-PERPETUATED myth as 'man flu' itself.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great to see a page that enables people with no in-depth knowledge of biology or epidemiology to air useless comments! As with most things genetic, it probably does exist, but exhibits a rather small effect.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Children get colds

    Men get flu

    Women get on with it

  • Comment number 6.

    Is 'man flu' a real illness? Well flu is a real illness.

    In my experience, 'man flu' for me is just a ploy that I cynically manipulate to suit my own base ends because I dont get ill very often. It drives my partner to utter despair.

  • Comment number 7.

    Man flu is nonsense. I hate being ill. I never make a fuss.



  • Comment number 8.

    As the vast majority of HYS commentators have no idea whatsoever about immunology isn't this an utterly pointless thread just designed to fuel uniformed knee jerk rants about everything but immunology. Poster #1 has got this off to a great start already.

    Perhaps tomorrow we can have the thread: Is Einsteins theory of relativity correct? Is the defining feature of special relativity the replacement of the Galilean transformations of classical mechanics by the Lorentz transformations? And how does random, often libellous & usually factually incorrect comments about Gordon Brown affect the perception of time in relation to Einsteins theory?

  • Comment number 9.

    Were all the scientists and the people at Cambridge University men?

    Man-flu is real, at least to the male species of society, if they catch it their dying, the can't get out of bed, their head is throbbing, they feel weak. Of course men have a weaker immune system than women, they don't do half as much work as women, so don't build up a resistance. How many of them, cook the meals, wash the clothes, do the housework, do the shopping, do the gardening, even the decorating is to much of a chore for them, they prefer to sit and watch the telly, go down the pub or local wine bar.

    I will state not all men are as the above, there are the minority who actually make an effort and you will find that these will not complain about having man-flu, they will take an aspirin and get over it, those I have respect for.

    Do women complain more, of course not, they can't, not allowed, they have grin and bear it, you don't get sympathy from a male, they still expect their dinner, their washing done and the house cleaned, but heaven help you if you don't sympathise with them because then they say you don't care, Ugh.

  • Comment number 10.

    It's a myth started by the man-hating-feminist brigade, and fuelled by guys in crummy jobs looking for the slightest excuse to take a day off work.
    There's NOTHING more to it than that.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm surprised funds have not yet been allocated to research such a devastating and debilitating illness althogh some would argue that it's a myth fabricated by women to not show any sympathy to the male species in time of need. Man flu is worse than all other flu's put together, well, apart from the old Spanish flu and those that kill.

    Either way the male species will forever be at risk from this illness.

  • Comment number 12.

    5. At 2:53pm on 24 Mar 2010, JohnH wrote:

    Children get colds

    Men get flu

    Women get on with it
    ***************************************

    John - you have made my day!!! What a gem!

    #4 J.Maxwell
    The only cure for coughs and sniffles is to take plenty of paracetamal and other cold remedies.
    ****************************************
    Yeah, All Better! Sorry about your liver!

    Seriously, well actually not seriously....this is quite good fun!

  • Comment number 13.

    From practical experience, my wife gets the flu atleast two times or more a year.
    Me the practical joker gets only once in two years or less.
    I don't know, who is lying.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm sure if men were ''at it'' they could find a better way to have a couple of days off work...

  • Comment number 15.

    Complete nonsense.

  • Comment number 16.

    9. At 2:56pm on 24 Mar 2010, PadiaLady wrote:

    "Were all the scientists and the people at Cambridge University men?

    Man-flu is real, at least to the male species of society, if they catch it their dying, the can't get out of bed, their head is throbbing, they feel weak. Of course men have a weaker immune system than women, they don't do half as much work as women, so don't build up a resistance. How many of them, cook the meals, wash the clothes, do the housework, do the shopping, do the gardening, even the decorating is to much of a chore for them, they prefer to sit and watch the telly, go down the pub or local wine bar.

    I will state not all men are as the above, there are the minority who actually make an effort and you will find that these will not complain about having man-flu, they will take an aspirin and get over it, those I have respect for.

    Do women complain more, of course not, they can't, not allowed, they have grin and bear it, you don't get sympathy from a male, they still expect their dinner, their washing done and the house cleaned, but heaven help you if you don't sympathise with them because then they say you don't care, Ugh."

    LOL! You didn't half make me laugh.

    I'm guessing they used all the scientists working on proving MMGW

  • Comment number 17.

    "9. At 2:56pm on 24 Mar 2010, PadiaLady wrote:
    Do women complain more, of course not, they can't, not allowed, they have grin and bear it, you don't get sympathy from a male, they still expect their dinner, their washing done and the house cleaned, but heaven help you if you don't sympathise with them because then they say you don't care, Ugh."

    You're with the wrong bloke.

  • Comment number 18.

    NO - I haven't had a day off work in over 38 years for anything, I haven't taken a tablet of any sort for at least 30 years. The problem in our modern age is people go moithering their doctors as soon as they get a bit of a sniffle (anything for a week off) and doctors give them a load of anti-biotics which not only kills the bug, it kills your anti-bodies as well making you more prone to catch something else. My theory, and it's only my theory is, it's in that period where your anti-bodies have been disabled that things like cancer move in. Anyway, in my workplace women are in the majority and it's women that are always off with something, to them getting a cold is like a badge of honour, or maybe it's the female trait, they love moaning.

  • Comment number 19.

    My theory is that men have a better immune system thus it's a stronger strain of flu that men get thats why it hits us harder.
    Next women will be claming peroid pains are real : )

  • Comment number 20.

    It is very hard to even tell who gets flu. Many many people with bad colds say they have the flu but they do not seem to realise that this is an illness which usually means you are in bed hardly able to move with a temperature which can be quite high. I have only had flu once thankfully but have had many heavy colds like most people. Another thing people say they have is "a touch of the flu!"! So unless each case is diagnosed by a doctor I would say alot of the statistics are pure speculation.

  • Comment number 21.

    'Man-flu' is a load of rubbish.

    Every time I get sick I push to keep working and I take time off if I'm unable to work. If I so much as sneeze at the wrong time or even just say 'I have a cold', a female friend of mine will start rabbiting on about how men are such babies and how it's just 'man-flu' - even though I'm just carrying on with my life.

    It's always the same story, 'Man-flu' is what insecure women talk about when they want to feel a bit of fake superiority. Truth be told I hear women complain more about being ill than men.

  • Comment number 22.

    Comment #9.

    You are clearly a man-hater. Pathetic. I assume you have absolutely nothing to say about the actual study which addresses the effect of hormones on the immune system. Keep your vitriol to yourself.

  • Comment number 23.

    "10. At 3:00pm on 24 Mar 2010, its_dave_here wrote:

    It's a myth started by the man-hating-feminist brigade, and fuelled by guys in crummy jobs looking for the slightest excuse to take a day off work.
    There's NOTHING more to it than that."

    You are very possibly right. I am glad that you know su much about this matter, as I am a bio-scientist and I have always wondered whether there are genes linked to either the immune system or plasma membrane proteins that exist on the missing part of the allele on the male Y chromosome (as opposed to the female X chromosome as you of course must know). Although I genuinely do not know either way - it is not my field of expertise, I though that there was at least a possibility that this was the case as their are quite a few other diseases that are linked to this chromosomal difference between males and females. Anyway, thanks very much for enlightening me once and for all, I'm glad that not all of the commentators on BBC HYS are armchair experts who do not have a clue what they are talking about.

  • Comment number 24.

    John Maxwell wrote:
    The only cure for coughs and sniffles is to take plenty of paracetamal and other cold remedies.


    I've found that going for a swim and then having a double whisky with lemon before going for a sauna gets rid of most minor ailments without the need for any medication.

    Just don't mix up the order as swimming gets quite difficult after downing a double whisky...

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    We all have a different genetic-makeup and therefore different health susceptibilities, that much is clear.

    What I find interesting is how "male v. female" research - pointing out the differences in each gender's genetic structure - is so popular these days, whereas the genetic differences (and therefore differing health susceptibilities) between different races is covered up at all costs, even to the detriment of peoples health, purely due to politics.

  • Comment number 27.

    The many differences between men and women stem from our evolutionary past - men had to go out to hunt and gather... women had to sit around the camp fire and look after children. It seems perfectly possible that evolution equipped women with a better immune system because of the greater exposure they would have to social gatherings and large numbers of children.

    In evolutionary terms it's only a blink of an eye since we were living in caves and so many of these differences have yet to be evolved away, even though they no longer seem relevant.

  • Comment number 28.

    I am sure men don't have a weaker immune system than women, when they have a cold (lets face it, it is a cold not flu) they don't seem to be able to cope with it so well.

    Flu really knocks you out, you have a high temperature, all your bones ache and you definitely don't feel like getting out of bed. With a cold, you get the sniffles, a headache, feel a bit hot and bothered, maybe a cough as well, and feel really sorry for yourselves. There is a difference.

    One thing that annoys me is when you are told someone won't be at work because they have the flu, and breeze in the next day with the sniffles. They haven't had flu they have had a cold.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm just wondering if this "illness" only happens to married guys. I'm single and never had what would be described as man-flu. I get the proper flu from time to time (about once every 4-5 years), but even then I'm the one who has to get on with it as no one is here to wait on me hand and foot.

    Just an afterthought. As someone who smokes cannabis, and who's friends smoke cannabis, none of us get this so-called man-flu. Right or wrong, I SWEAR by having cannabis when I get the flu as it does make me feel less ill. Maybe they should research this!

  • Comment number 30.

    The BBC certainly loves stirring up the battle of the sexes!

  • Comment number 31.

    #18 "doctors give them a load of anti-biotics which not only kills the bug, it kills your anti-bodies as well making you more prone to catch something else. My theory, and it's only my theory is, it's in that period where your anti-bodies have been disabled that things like cancer move in."

    As I've made cancer vaccines for ten years I can comfortably tell you that your theory is nonsense. Antibiotics do not kill antibodies. Antibodies are produced by white blood cells (made in your bone marrow). T cells are not in the least bit harmed by antibiotics.

    Cancer is a multi-step disease requiring an underlying genetic weakness then repeated DNA damage. Your immune system CAN destroy tumours (which is exactly what happens to people who have sudden spontaneous remission of their tumour- this is the effect I'm trying to boost) but equally there are cancers like myeloma that are effectively your immune system going into over-drive. Auto-immune disease like Type 1 diabetes and allergies are the result of over active immune systems too. Too much is as bad as too little in immunology.

  • Comment number 32.

    as I understand it, men on average have larger sinuses than women. this means that the symptoms associated with inflammation of the sinuses due to flu will be more severe in men than women. this also seems to be the case with other causes of inflamation of the sinuses, (anecdotally) men seem to be hit harder by hay fever than women.

  • Comment number 33.

    I haven’t had a day off sick for almost 10 years, even when I am sick I will drag myself into work. Not to play the sick martyr but because day time TV is awful and until the quality of day time programmes improve I don't see me having any sick days for the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 34.

    Men has been finally proved right.

  • Comment number 35.

    "9. At 2:56pm on 24 Mar 2010, PadiaLady wrote:
    Were all the scientists and the people at Cambridge University men?
    Man-flu is real, at least to the male species of society, if they catch it their dying, the can't get out of bed, their head is throbbing, they feel weak. Of course men have a weaker immune system than women, they don't do half as much work as women, so don't build up a resistance. How many of them, cook the meals, wash the clothes, do the housework, do the shopping, do the gardening, even the decorating is to much of a chore for them, they prefer to sit and watch the telly, go down the pub or local wine bar.
    I will state not all men are as the above, there are the minority who actually make an effort and you will find that these will not complain about having man-flu, they will take an aspirin and get over it, those I have respect for.
    Do women complain more, of course not, they can't, not allowed, they have grin and bear it, you don't get sympathy from a male, they still expect their dinner, their washing done and the house cleaned, but heaven help you if you don't sympathise with them because then they say you don't care, Ugh."

    Well, no sweeping generalisations verging on the slightly sexist there then! Surprise me - did your husband forget to take out the rubbish last night (hence the pseudo-feminist rant), or are you applying for the job of Harriet Harman's script-writer? I'd lose the 'martyr syndrome' though if I were you, it's bad for your health....

  • Comment number 36.

    I find this study interesting, mostly because I was watching HardTalk yesterday and the interviewee was Germaine Greer, noted feminist. She was saying that she doesn't believe in equality, at least in respect of gender, since women doing "a man's job" have to deal with systems created by men, and therefore need to become more "man like" in order to progress and succeed. What she suggested was that the roles themselves should change to suit the inherent strengths of women compared to men, and visa versa.

    So why is this relevant, well it highlights the intrinsic point that even though we treat men and women equally from a legal point of view, biological differences are inherent. Resistance to pain, disease and even injury is different for men and women, but also different from individual to individual.

    I have always believed that "man-flu" was a myth and that boys and men just tended to be hypochondriacs when it came to illness, but the reality is that the same virus CAN have completely different results in two different people affected at the same time in the same place by the same strain.

    We need to stop trying to eliminate and ignoring differences from individual to individual as generalisation doesn't help "exceptional" individuals, it just holds them back or means they get inadequate treatment.

  • Comment number 37.

    My ex-wife always seem to have minor ailments and was taking soluble aspirins all the time (so it seemed).

    I hardly take any, over a year.

    When I worked in an office, I was catching colds, flu, the lot ... ALL the time. Since I've worked for myself and out a lot of the time in the fresh air, I have had just 2 colds in 8 years.

    Whether you call it man flu or not, I think working in an office is the most unhealthy place to be as it harbours all the germs under the sun and when people are not paid if they are off sick, they go to work and spread their germs around to everyone else ...

    Work for yourself and live in the countryside as I do, 10 minutes from the sea ...

  • Comment number 38.

    For so long women were treated pretty poorly, on average , not in every case, by men, derided, put-down etc. So now, the roles are somewhat reversed, if only in a tongue-in-cheek way. Women are aloud to say men are bad at multi-tasking and bad in bed and get 'man-flu'. Men on the other hand do not feel that they are allowed to 'take-the-mick' out of women in the same way as it may be seen as being sexist and men (most, not all obviously) will avoid this at all costs.

  • Comment number 39.

    "4. At 2:51pm on 24 Mar 2010, John Maxwell wrote:
    The only cure for coughs and sniffles is to take plenty of paracetamal and other cold remedies.

    If I get a cold or flu I just take half-a-dozen Lemsips over a 10 hour period and the cold/flu is gone. SIMPLES!!"

    Read the packet! It says "no more than 4 sachets in 24 hours" and to allow at least 4 hours between doses. Lemsip contains paracetamol and overdosing on it (even in a small way) can have serious long term effects. There is no cure for a cold, medication only treats the symptoms, but colds usually only last three days. The illness you mention is not flu, that is a much more serious disease.

  • Comment number 40.

    Of course men get "man-flu" - if they were women, they'd get "womens problems"

  • Comment number 41.

    Regardless of whether 'man flu' exists or not, I am always going to be told that I, as a man, exaggerate illnesses.

  • Comment number 42.

    I am not concerned with the topic of does 'Man Flu' exist or not.
    One can discuss does 'Woman Flu' exist or not, the topic is pointless.
    What does matter is the character of the person.
    When I get a cold or anything else that has a negative effect on my health, I do not turn into Mr Wimp and pointlessly complain.
    I, and others like me, get on with life including going to work although I appreciate that is not a sensible action if one is not fully recovered because of spreading the infection.
    I have noticed some women enjoy poking fun at men in general regarding 'Man Flu'.
    I have little sympathy for such men, most people get a cold or perhaps the flu, the action to take is to get on with it.
    I once surprised a female colleague by explaining I do not suffer from 'Man Flu', her reply to me is I am the exception to the rule. I felt that was a sexist reply but I let it go.
    I used to know of a young man, 16 years old, whom has never had a cold or the flu.
    He has been ill in other ways as is the norm but never via a cold or flu.
    His mother is most protective of that feature as she believes he will be used as a scientific experiment to find out the reason.
    If statistics show more men obtain a cold/flu than women then there could be a difference in the immune systems.
    Appropriate research will enlighten us.

  • Comment number 43.

    I suggest that some of the reason for 'man flu' is that until comparatively recently it was the Man who worked in full time occupations that required a sickness certificate to retain sick pay, whilst many women worked either part-time or in jobs where either there was no sick pay, or a certificate was not required for absence. I found that when I had to record a persons 'sick call' nobody had a common cold, everyone had flu symptoms, or three day flu or some similar nonsense. If anyone tried to go sick with a 'cold' they were ridiculed, even though a common cold made the person unfit for work, and a danger to others.So Man Flu was invented.
    I expect that with the increase in full time employment by women the distinction will disappear.

  • Comment number 44.

    I am a man, and every few years I get flu, so yes Man Flu does exist.

  • Comment number 45.

    ManFlu is NOT a MYTH its REAL !!

    And the ONLY CURE is pleanty of BRANDY & Lemonade HONEST LOVE.....

  • Comment number 46.

    "8. At 2:55pm on 24 Mar 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    As the vast majority of HYS commentators have no idea whatsoever about immunology isn't this an utterly pointless thread just designed to fuel uniformed knee jerk rants about everything but immunology. Poster #1 has got this off to a great start already."

    It smells like another HYS vehicle for people with no original thoughts to make crass gender stereotypes. Yawn.

  • Comment number 47.

    You'll never hear of a women with man flu as there are has been no known survivors.

  • Comment number 48.

    Ive not been ill for the last 10 years...............

  • Comment number 49.

    Is this a repeat of the same story a month or so ago? But then it was not testosterone but female hormones that helped women produce more (or less?) anti-inflammatory substances. I read some of the science and it made no sense to jump to the conclusions reported and it made no sense to link it to "man-flu". Whatever that is.

    Just a re-cycled story with little substance to it.

  • Comment number 50.

    Max_normal wrote:
    "10. At 3:00pm on 24 Mar 2010, its_dave_here wrote:

    It's a myth started by the man-hating-feminist brigade, and fuelled by guys in crummy jobs looking for the slightest excuse to take a day off work.
    There's NOTHING more to it than that."

    You are very possibly right. I am glad that you know su much about this matter, as I am a bio-scientist and I have always wondered whether there are genes linked to either the immune system or plasma membrane proteins that exist on the missing part of the allele on the male Y chromosome (as opposed to the female X chromosome as you of course must know). Although I genuinely do not know either way - it is not my field of expertise, I though that there was at least a possibility that this was the case as their are quite a few other diseases that are linked to this chromosomal difference between males and females. Anyway, thanks very much for enlightening me once and for all, I'm glad that not all of the commentators on BBC HYS are armchair experts who do not have a clue what they are talking about.

    Well, I'm what you patronisingly refer to as an "arm-chair expert" and take it from me, the ONLY time I've had "man-flu" is when I've been feeling a little under the weather whilst employed in a crummy job I hate, or when I was at school, and I exaggerated the effects to justify taking a day or two off work/school, when realistically I could've easily gone and got on with it.
    I'm not in a crummy job I hate now, and consequently never suffer from "man-flu" That's my "expert" opinion!

    You should maybe stop looking at chromosomes for the answer, and start looking at it from a psychological viewpiont?

  • Comment number 51.

    man flu is a myth.i am a man, i get a cold 2 times a year, most women i know have colds twice the amount i do where as i still go around doing what i need to do most of the women i know will be tucked up with a cover and film. different peoples bodies react differently to illnesses

  • Comment number 52.

    "23. At 3:37pm on 24 Mar 2010, max_normal wrote:

    I am a bio-scientist and I have always wondered whether there are genes linked to either the immune system or plasma membrane proteins that exist on the missing part of the allele on the male Y chromosome"

    You mean "on the male-specific region of the Y chromosome" I presume.

  • Comment number 53.

    Men only get "man flu" when they are in a relationship...or when they pop round to see their Mum...

  • Comment number 54.

    Perhaps other factors are involved than have been cited in the article. I'm male but haven't had a cold since I quit smoking about 42 years ago and haven't had the flu since I got the flu from an injection which was supposed to immunise me from getting swine flu in 1976, but had the opposite effect. My answer (somewhat tongue-in-cheek): No smoking and less medicine!

  • Comment number 55.

    I am always slightly surprised that people argue against scientific, peer-reviewed research, not by quoting contradicting scientific, peer-reviewed research, but by presenting anecdotal evidence based on a sample size of one.

  • Comment number 56.

    Of course man flu is real! Men just can't take the strain as well as women, that's why we have the babies!!

    "4. At 2:51pm on 24 Mar 2010, John Maxwell wrote:
    Just like PMT, 'Man Flu' is a of load rubbish!"

    John, with statements like that I'm surprised you've not been lynched by a gaggle of hormonal women. I can promise you that PMT is not only real it can ruin a woman's life.

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm working in an office where lots of men have had man flu, but only the women have taken time off work...

  • Comment number 58.

    It may well be that certain men are predisposed to suffering from man flu, but before all you women start criticising how weak men are, remember that women take up 90% of doctors appointments - not men!

  • Comment number 59.

    "John Oxford, Professor of virology at the University of London... says his team at the University of London deliberately infected men and women with the flu virus.

    He says there was no noticeable difference between their recovery times or their immunity.

    "But the women did complain more," he added."

    Oh boy, ain't that the truth!

  • Comment number 60.

    4. At 2:51pm on 24 Mar 2010, John Maxwell wrote:
    Just like PMT, 'Man Flu' is a of load rubbish!


    --------

    John I can assure you that PMT is very real. It's not like us ladies like being crabby once a month.
    It's very difficult to explain the feeling of PMT to a man but it gives us ladies a similar feeling if that festering anger that one gets from being stuck on a slow moving bus in traffic for at least half an hour. Or that feeling you get on the train platform when your train is constantly being delayed by a further 5 minutes and eventually cancelled.

  • Comment number 61.

    Given that women take considerably more sick days than men [see the ONS figures], wouldn't the funds dedicated to this research have been better used in establishing the reasons for that? Perhaps we could also explore why people working in the public sector seem to be so much more prone to illness..

  • Comment number 62.

    #18 "doctors give them a load of anti-biotics which not only kills the bug, it kills your anti-bodies as well making you more prone to catch something else."

    Antibiotics kill bacteria and have no effect on viruses such as cold or flu. Your theory is wrong.

  • Comment number 63.

    I can't believe that scientists are actually trying to prove if a joke is true or not. Were they searching for three legged chickens and flying pigs at the same time?

    I hope this investigation was an offshoot from something more important. I'd hate to think that medical science budgets are being wasted when there are so many real diseases to investsigate.

  • Comment number 64.

    I suppose we need a silly season every so often to compensate for the more serious topics on HYS recently.

  • Comment number 65.

    Yeah but how often a year do men get this supposed man flu anywa?

    I'm ill about twice a year tops, my wife seems to be ill once or twice a month.

    Man flu is really just something else for women to whinge about.

  • Comment number 66.

    I don't know about anyone else but i work through my colds and flus. Its just a silly man Vs woman thing.

  • Comment number 67.

    #25. At 3:41pm on 24 Mar 2010, Hillwalker wrote:
    'Still come May 6th if the prime minister can ever summon up the courage to call the date ( and his track record is a bit suspect ! )
    we can say goodby to their spin and sleaze. Bring on the day.'

    I cannot differentiate between the spin and sleaze of one 'party' and another, so why is May 6th significant?

    the chance to get a better class of spin and sleaze ?

    ------------------------------------

    And just what has that got to do with "man-flu". Unless you are referring to head spin and sneeze. I am quite sure the PM can cope with "man flu" just as well as any man.

  • Comment number 68.

    Men definitely suffer badly from flu on a regular basis; we suffer bravely and with dignity. Despite this suffering we get a constant critism from the female sex for no reason at all.

    Women on the other hand moan on and on about childbirth; in Africa women have their babies whils't they are working, take a few minutes off, put the baby on their backs and carry on. (Alright there does tend to be a little higher infant mortality rate and of people dying during childbirth)

    I'm glad that the record is being put straight on the subject of man-flu; a short article from the BBC on how women overplay childbirth would be most welcome.

  • Comment number 69.

    Let's face it, men and women are different in respect of their health issues. YES I think that possibly 'flu is one illness to which men are more susceptible than women and this may have something to do with the natural female biological immune system designed to help protect offspring during pregnancy. I think it is now generally accepted that women can withstand extreme cold temperatures far better than men and 'flu is often associated with catching a chill/cold first that then it develops into 'flu.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    This gives men the perfect excuse to go down with 'man flu'. Doctors should keep this sort of information quiet!

  • Comment number 72.

    Can someone please explain to me why it is ok for women to talk about 'man-flu' in a disparaging way, and it is not sexist, even though women's sick leave in this country exceeds that of men?

    Does this mean it is ok for me to disparagingly talk about 'women drivers', even though men cost car insurance companies more overall?

    Seriously, if you hear somebody coming out with this ridiculous 'man flu' tripe, and you're a guy (or even if you're not), please make clear to the person saying it that they behaving in a deliberately sexist way. And I have no problem with them doing that, provided it is ok for men to be deliberately sexist to women.

    I just want a level playing field here, please.

  • Comment number 73.

    Nonsense.There very little else you can say.

  • Comment number 74.

    In my experience women have a tendency to need attention when they are ill, yet when the case is reversed men are told we are making a fuss about nothing, and to just get on. Then they start throwing "man-flu" comments at us to belittle us. Its basically a form of sexism. I have read articles in New scientist that contradict the idea that men feel pain more than women, or that men suffer more during an attack of a cold or flu. Flu surely effects people differently, it is plausible that some flu strains effect men in a more dramatic way, while others do so to women.

  • Comment number 75.

    Women take FAR MORE days off work due to sickness than men do. 'Nuff said.

  • Comment number 76.

    Don't these scientists have anything better to do? Who pays for such pointless and utterly useless research?

  • Comment number 77.

    Women are two X's and men are one X and one X with a bit missing. This gives XX in women and XY in men. To me it seems natural that the X with a bit missing, (the Y), means that men are more prone to illnesses. Women have to be stronger because we give birth and have to survive to rear the children. It does not mean that men are weaker it just means that we have different roles in regards to the progression of the species. We are two halves of one coin and we should support each other and not look to belittle each other!!!

  • Comment number 78.

    37. At 3:56pm on 24 Mar 2010, Andrew Lye wrote:

    When I worked in an office, I was catching colds, flu, the lot ... ALL the time. Since I've worked for myself and out a lot of the time in the fresh air, I have had just 2 colds in 8 years.

    -----------------------------

    Same with me Andrew. I used to walk a total of 4 miles a day to and from work and had my own office where I rarely came into contact with anyone. I worked there for 3 years and in that time never had a cold. I now drive to work and share a office with 5 people, since working here I've had 4 colds in 2 years!

    I have no idea if man flu exists or not, as others have said, different people are affected in different ways. I do take time off when I have a cold, but this is more because I know my work performance won't be at its best and I'm likely to infect others. I don't moan though, just sit it out at home until I feel better and aren't likely to wipe out the entire office.

  • Comment number 79.

    30. At 3:51pm on 24 Mar 2010, yellowsandydog wrote:
    "The BBC certainly loves stirring up the battle of the sexes!"


    I am afraid that they will put censorship on men working there.

  • Comment number 80.

    LOL! my Husband has manflu when he has a sneeze and he actually puts his hand on his head and says "ugh I have man flu"!
    I laugh at him and tell him funny how it happens when he doesnt want to go somewhere!! LOL if he has it Thursday night, miraculously gone on the Friday because that is his night out!! LOL...
    Is Man Flu real? nope... Flu is but it does not differentiate between sexes.
    I know when My husband is REALLY sick he goes to bed and just sleeps and sweats until he is better.
    By the way we treat it as a laugh as my husband is my full time carer, so he does not work but when he did I honestly cannot remember him having a sick day, in fact I had to call the doctor one day as he couldnt stand and virtually had to sit on him till the doc came and turned out he had FLU!!

  • Comment number 81.

    Specious Theory One: children pick up an illness at school and bring it home; the viruses that are passed on are those that evaded the child's immune system, which is of course 50% derived from the father's; for each child who succumbs in succession, another fraction of his immune response becomes useless; the mother is more likely to catch it before he does; she doses herself with pharmaceuticals in order to soldier on with much self-congratulation; the virus again adapts so that now the pharmaceuticals are largely useless. Finally, the man catches it. What was originally 'the sniffles' is now a specifically tailored bioengineered weapon of death. Man flu.

    Specious Theory Two: thousands of years ago, when our hunter-gathering ancestors came down with an illness, a woman who felt a bit under the weather and operated at 70% efficiency could still gather 70% of the roots, nuts and berries she ordinarily could, where every little helps, whereas a man operating at even 80% efficiency who still tried to hunt would catch nothing at best or get trampled by a mammoth at worst. So, evolution favoured those men who paid attention to their symptoms and knew when it was a good idea to wrap up warm and stay in the cave. Man Flu - an adaptation! In the long term, for the good of the species!

  • Comment number 82.

    Man flu is real and more deadly the female counterpart, bird flu

  • Comment number 83.

    Women just stress out their men, that is why they are stronger than men!

  • Comment number 84.

    " Of course men have a weaker immune system than women, they don't do half as much work as women, so don't build up a resistance. How many of them, cook the meals, wash the clothes, do the housework, do the shopping,"

    I do, as it happens, since my wife and I exchanged traditional roles many years ago. Oddly enough, I get the odd cold, but never a dose of flu for well over twenty years. My better half, and she is just that, has flu about once a year on average, and that is genuine flu, not a cold. Somehow, I doubt if she has excessive testosterone levels.

  • Comment number 85.

    I doubt men are really any more effected then woman, more likely it depends on the individual then the sex of that person. We're probably talking about a psychology issue here rather than a physical one.

    Still I’d be interested to see some of the details of this research; I’m always interested in new possibilities.

    Personally I’ve come across more men who complain then women but that might just be me.

  • Comment number 86.

    Dunno about 'Man Flu' but everyone I know in the lower levels of employment (ie. the working bit) is run-down.

    Thats because we're expendable, rightless and sickness is held against us and used to select us for the sack, unless you are in a minority group that is.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think it's just a sexist and derogatory term that shouldn't even be getting attention like this. I can guarantee that you wouldn't get a HYS for "Are women bad drivers?" if (hypothetically) a study found that a higher percentage of women were involved in road accidents.

    The general posters are not medical experts, so what sort of response were the creators of this HYS expecting to get, other than off-topic or uninformed, sexist comments?

  • Comment number 88.

    Both men and women are not equal and exact nonetheless both entities are complete by own self being originated from a single source. While some qualifications are more abundant in one than the other to see ourselves in two different aspects instead of one to give a company each other, the men might carry higher level of testosterone with oneself but it can be a threat to one’s immune system to face a antibody intruded into the system equally with that of a women. By nature women always invariable absorb more pain than men either due to, not disturbing the partner with no additional pain or neglect it of her own out of intense Love; bearing in her heart towards the well being of her partner not to cause an unnecessary pain to him which the men often prefer to disclose it immediately to draw an instant interest from her to get some additional Love through her extending of an expression or a gesture.

    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  • Comment number 89.

    I've had a few good laughs over the years, listening to those characters, mobile clamped to their ear, leaning on the water cooler, sniffling a bit, and pontificating to the person on the other end of the phone and anyone else within earshot that they've 'got a touch of flu..'
    NOOOOOO...!! You've got a bit of a cold, matey. If you have flu - you know all about it..! You CANNOT go to work with it - usually you can't even get out of bed, and you have a hefty fever, and feel like death.
    I blame the medicines companies who lump the two together on their medications - 'for colds and flu'....

  • Comment number 90.

    Man Flu is such a myth. Twice this winter I've had a cold before my wife an 'got on with it' and twice she's ended up bed-ridden or generally incapable.

    I'm not saying my wife is weak, she's given birth twice, but I don't think this Man Flu idea is real at all. I think the virus might mutate between people, but saying men always suffer worse is nonsense.

  • Comment number 91.

    Being more prone to catching a cold does not actually mean the cold is more debilitating for men, as compared to women. I did not read where in the article that the Cambridge team found that a cold in a man would actually render him incapable of, oh, taking out the garbage, and the SAME level of cold in a woman would have no real impact. It did not prove the existence of "man-flu", but merely suggested a possible evolutionary and biological reason for men in general to possibly have weaker immune systems than women. Yes. POSSIBLY.

    Men: grow up, suck it up, and get on with it. The women in your lives might feel more sympathetic to your sniffles if you try to cope, rather than crying "man flu" and insisting that a sneeze renders you useless.

    Do not forget that the virology expert can prove that there is no actual difference.

  • Comment number 92.

    "Children get colds, men get flu, women get on with it".

    I wish I was married to one of those women. I hardly ever get sick, but there's hardly a month goes by when my wife isn't bed-ridden with some sniffle or other.

  • Comment number 93.

    Surely 'man flu' came about because women can't tolerate men moaning about anything, including being ill. It eats into their moaning time.

  • Comment number 94.

    I've got it right now and am on steroids and antibiotics to cure it.
    My wife is out at work with a bit of a cold

  • Comment number 95.

    Beeblebox comment 55:
    "I am always slightly surprised that people argue against scientific, peer-reviewed research, not by quoting contradicting scientific, peer-reviewed research, but by presenting anecdotal evidence based on a sample size of one."
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That is the best comment I have seen on here. People should be amused by discussions such as this or if they vehemently disagree from a scientific perspective, provide an alternative viewpoint from credible sources.

    Please stop blaming the notion of 'man flu' on militant feminism, it just sounds silly.

  • Comment number 96.

    None of this is even related to 'flu' - influenza is sometimes accompanied by a cough or sniffles but the symptoms described here are simply Rhinoviruses - common colds.

    The other day I met a woman who claimed to have the endemic (and impossible) 'touch of flu' - before professing that she had never heard of Influenza. She might have heard of it if she'd ever had flu - days spent in bed, every muscle aching and weak, and then feeling rotten for days after.

  • Comment number 97.

    If a man gets flu then it is an illness, it is real and it could be classed as man flu. Hardly a scientific question.

  • Comment number 98.

    I bet this 'research' was conducted by an all male team. Typical!

  • Comment number 99.

    I love the bit where the Prof says that actually both sexes suffer the same amount but women complain more.
    Clearly men get man flu but women complain about colds more ;-D

  • Comment number 100.

    Men & women have different bodies and although most diseases cross over the male/female divide, not all do. I have never heard of a woman having prostate cancer, as I have never heard of a man having bad period pains, so there could well be an illness which we are calling man flu. I'm afraid many of the sisterhood use it as a weapon to denigrate their menfolk, but I don't care. I'm feeling a bout coming on right now, so I'm going to have a hot toddy (teaspoonful of hot water in a half bottle of whisky)and an early night.

 

Page 1 of 3

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.