There is an episode of Roseanne in which John has the flu and Roseanne is sick of taking care of him, because he’s so darn whiny. Apparently, this scenario wasn’t just concocted for sitcom hijinks. Men do whine a lot when they have the flu, but at least one doctor believes it’s because they’re really, really suffering.
CBC News reports that the British Medical Journal has published new research indicating that the “man flu” is a medical condition, not just an opportunity for the men in your life to make you wait on them hand and foot. Researcher Kyle Sue writes that he was tired of “being accused of over-reacting” every time he got a cold, and he believes he’s found evidence that he is actually a very sensitive flu flower:
“I think the symptoms are real,” Sue said. “And they’re worse. The whole point of doing this article is to prove that men are not wimps.”
For the Canadian doctor, it was all about the science — but it was personal, too.
“I’ve been criticized for exaggerating my symptoms when I had the flu,” he told CBC News from Arviat, Nunavut, where he’s the community’s only doctor. “I thought. You know what? This would be an interesting topic to look into.”
Sue searched for evidence of whether or not men experience the flu differently from women, and if there might be an evolutionary reason for this. Perhaps cavemen suffering from man flu is what pushed women out into the world to gather berries? So they could get away from their whiny cavemates?
Sue did discover several studies that suggest female mice have a stronger immune system than the males of the species. In compiling other studies, he discovered men are more likely to be admitted to the hospital for flu symptoms than women, that women generally have a better response to vaccination than men, and in one observational study, more men had flu-related deaths in the US between 1997-2007.
And then this: “In an unscientific survey, men suffering from a flu reported taking more time off from work than women.” Of course.
Sue maintains that testosterone acts as an immunosuppressant, while people who have bodies powered by estrogen get an extra boost. Overall, it just seems like he doesn’t want dudes to get made fun of when they sleep all day on the couch and demand soup.
“The whole point of doing this article is to prove that men are not wimps,” he said in an interview. “Actually, we are suffering from something we have no control over ... [We] should be given the benefit of the doubt rather than being criticized for not functioning well during the flu or the common cold.”
Can we criticize you for not functioning well when you’re at 100 percent?