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Man Flu: Fact or Fallacy?

Here’s the lowdown on this gender-specific disease

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Attention! All sufferers of the Man Flu and families of the men suffering with the Man Flu. This article is meant to address a controversial, real problem going on in medical circles. Please understand that while we poke fun at both sides, we don’t intend to cause offence or to disrespect anyone.


Man flu is a supposedly insulting term given or referred to men who have the flu (or simply a cold) but tend to overreact to its symptoms. There’s still some continuing debate as to whether it really exists or not. We’ll present you with two scenarios based on facts and anecdotes, and then you’ll decide for yourself if man flu does exist.

FACT: Man Flu DOES EXIST and is REAL


  • According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, estrogenic compounds decrease the severity of Influenza A (flu) symptoms among women with the flu. These estrogenic compounds aren’t found in men so the possibility that they may have more severe symptoms could be real. Estrogenic compounds provide women with female-specific antiviral properties.

  • If the flu isn’t addressed properly (tender loving care, chicken soup, rest, etc.) it may lead to a lower respiratory tract infection such as pneumonia. In women, it’s been discovered that oestrogen also has a protective effect against pneumonia. Other diseases for which oestrogen provides a protective effect include hepatitis viruses, Ebola, and HIV. So men may be more vulnerable to pneumonia developing alongside the flu.

  • A research study done at the University of Ottawa among male and female mice found that male mice suffered more severe symptoms compared to female mice when artificially infected with bacteria. They took twice as long to recover and had higher fever temperatures. They inferred that testosterone is more of an immune suppressor compared to oestrogen which acts more as an immune enhancer.


  • When it comes to infectious diseases (like the flu), the mortality rates are often higher in males compared to females. A study documented that certain infectious microorganisms have weapons (virulence factors) that harm men more than women. They bring out these special weapons when they’re about to infect men, but not women.


    Here are some more “facts” a man might tell you about his man flu:

    1. “Honestly, it may be worse than childbirth, so please leave me in peace lying on the sofa while watching my favourite TV shows. Any change in position or movement from this sofa brings so much pain to my muscles and joints.”

    2. “It’s not just a cold. It’s contagious and can even wipe out the entire population of men in a certain area including the male monkeys at the zoo.”

    3. “You women have it easy and don’t contract man flu. You only have your periods.”

    4. “Men are really hard workers, but they don’t want to go to work if they have man flu because they don’t want other men to suffer the same fate they have. It’s a concern for others kind-of-thing.”

    5. “According to dubious statistics, more men die from man flu and man flu neglect (by wife or girlfriend) than heart attacks and road traffic accidents combined.”

    6. “Even Superman can get man flu. It’s not only Kryptonite he’s afraid of. But his symptoms are milder of course.”

    7. “All we ask for, dear women, is that you give us your utmost attention, some chicken soup for our aching soul, and do our house chores for us like taking out the rubbish and mowing the lawn. Thank you.”


FALLACY: Man Flu DOES NOT EXIST and is just used by men to get more care and attention


  • “Stop overreacting. It’s just the flu. Get out of bed and go to work!”, says your wife.

  • Men find it more difficult to deal with the flu because of the culture they’ve been raised in. Is your man a mummy’s boy (mama’s boy)? A mother-bonded man is most often times seen as a weakness. When men are expected to live on their own, about to be married or married, and economically stable and independent, a mama’s boy does the opposite. Your man expects you to give him the same amount of care and affection that his mum gave him when he was a boy.

  • The term man flu was originally created to sell a magazine. A British magazine by the name of Nuts which ran from 2004 to 2014 is arguably pinpointed as the cause for the rise of popularity of the term “man flu” in one of its 2006 issues. An online survey from that magazine immediately concluded the existence of man flu and the rest became history.

  • Women are just as likely to exaggerate and complain like men about what they’re feeling and claim they have the flu.

  • A cold IS NOT synonymous with the flu. Men equate having a cold with the flu. Symptoms of a cold are limited to a specific anatomic body part like the nose or throat. The symptoms of the flu are more generalised, sudden, and usually involve fever, body aches, headache, loss of appetite, and difficulty breathing. More often than not, when a man or a woman tells you that they have the flu, it’s just a cold.


  • No medical society in the world has accepted the existence of man flu. Also, it’s not listed in the International Classification of Diseases, a reference guide to the identification and classification of internationally accepted names of diseases.

  • Women who’ve been through childbirth know real pain when they experience it. Mother’s complain a lot less when they’re sick because they know that they still have to take care of the children even if they’re sick. They seldom rely on their husbands to do it.



How does man flu differ from the regular flu? How do you know if you have it?



The only notable differences between man flu and the regular flu are the probable facts that the symptoms are more prolonged and severe when it comes to man flu. Other than that, the symptoms are essentially the same. Symptoms include:

  • You’re a man…who complains a lot about your flu symptoms (just kidding).
    Again, you’re a man…who thinks a cold is synonymous with the flu.
  • Fever and headache.
  • Severe muscle and joint pains.
  • You easily get tired.
  • A runny nose, sore throat, and cough.
  • Tired-looking, red, and watery eyes.


Treatment for Man Flu


  1. The treatment for man flu requires an understanding wife or girlfriend…seriously. Don’t mind all the complaining and just focus on the physical signs. Take the temperature, treat the runny nose and cough.

  2. Rest and sleep. Don’t try to exercise your way out of a man flu episode especially if your symptoms are generalised. And by rest, we mean turning off the TV. Your body needs time to recuperate and heal. This happens best while you’re asleep.

  3. Imbibe some warm fluids like broths, soups, and herbal teas. They’re perfect for a sore throat, nose stuffiness, and coughing.

  4. Drink your fluids like water, soup broth and herbal tea. This is especially true if you’re running a fever. It’s important to stay hydrated.

  5. A multivitamin and mineral complex and immune supporting supplements can help to speed up your recovery.

  6. See your primary healthcare practitioner if your symptoms persist.


The Bottom Line



So now do you believe in man flu? Your answer may be influenced by your gender. Whether man flu is a fact or fallacy, the term flu is still in the equation. So, for now, we’re calling all women to know the physical signs of the flu and focus on the treatment of those physical signs instead of the man (little boy). As long as you follow the signs, you will not be lost with all the seemingly “end of the world” aches and pains broadcasted by men. Until then, we’ll wait for more solid proof and possibly international acceptance for the condition termed as man flu. You may make a little fun of the man, but not of the flu.



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