The ‘Man Flu’: A Severe Case or Severe Wimpiness?

Man with flu.
Print icon

When it comes to complaining about flu and other upper-respiratory infection symptoms, men might not be wimps after all.  Maybe.

A new study by researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada found that “man flu” — a term often used by women who think that men complain more about their flu-like symptoms — might not be an exaggeration.

The study published in BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, showed some evidence that adult men have a higher risk of hospitalization and a higher rate of flu-related deaths compared to women in the same age groups. The study also showed that men are more susceptible to complications and have a higher mortality rate from other acute viral respiratory ailments.

“As a primary care doctor I’m not really taking specific note whether men or women are feeling more of an impact [from symptoms] unless there’s a real significant difference,” says Dr. David Wolpaw, a Hartford HealthCare Medical Group primary care provider based in Manchester. “And, I haven’t seen that. If there is a difference that can be scientifically proven, it’s very subtle.”

The study also suggests that men might be suffering from viral respiratory illnesses more because they have weaker immune systems.  And while the study doesn’t make reference to it, some women have even said that men simply have a lower tolerance for pain and discomfort than women.

“The problem with that line of thinking is that there’s really no objective way to measure pain,” says Wolpaw. “It wouldn’t surprise me that flu affects men to a greater extent than women because there are certainly diseases that affect men more like heart disease or women more like breast cancer.  What most people are saying when they talk about ‘man flu’ has to do with a subjective experience. A man might complain that he’s more tired or achier, but there’s really no objective way to measure who has more aches and more pain.”

One thing health experts do agree on: People should get their flu shots, especially seniors, children over six months and anyone with a compromised immune system or preexisting respiratory condition.

Wolpaw says that, while the flu shot might not be 100 percent effective, it’s a good line of defense.

“I liken it to wearing a seat belt. A seat belt isn’t going to protect you from every possible injury in a car crash.  But it does give you some measure of protection. It’s what you have so it’s worthwhile to take advantage of it,” he says.

If you have questions about the flu shot or want to know where you can get one, click here.

 

 


What's New


The Orchards at Southington receives Activate Southington grant

LeaAnn Blanchard, director of social services at The Orchards at Southington, third from left, gathers with members of Activate Southington and other grant recipients outside the Southington YMCA Women’s Health & Wellness Center. Blanchard’s program, “Laughter with LeaAnn,” received funding to support its expansion to several days each week. The...


DAWN Protocols are Revolutionizing Stroke Treatment and Care

DAWN is a groundbreaking study that is changing the way doctors are treating people who have had strokes. Dr. Mark Alberts is the physician-in-chief at the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute with details. Q.  What do these protocols mean for stroke patients?  A.  This new study (called the DAWN Trial...


A Grill Brush, A Burger . . . And Emergency Surgery

Cleaning your grill with a wire brush can be dangerous, as one Wallingford woman learned in 2015. Cheryl Harrison was rushed to MidState Medical Center in Meriden in extreme stomach pain two days after eating a hamburger containing a wire bristle from a barbecue grill brush. A CT scan revealed...


Photo Gallery: Hartford HealthCare Dancing for Parkinson’s Event

The Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute hosted the inaugural Hartford HealthCare’s Dancing for Parkinson’s fundraising event May 11 at the Hartford Hilton Hotel.  The evening will included a dance competition featuring special guests and judges from Hartford HealthCare and the state and music by the De Novo Band. Proceeds benefit...

Closeup of man tying sneaker.

A Closer Look at Longtime Runner’s Knee-Replacement Surgery

When Richard Kristoff was about 40 years old, his brother called him fat, launching a 45-year passion for running. The Columbia native ran at least five miles a day, more on weekends, in pockets of time he found around his work schedule with Pratt & Whitney, where he spent 40...


Keeping an Eye on Ocular Melanoma

Malignant melanoma of the eye – ocular melanoma – is rare. But there are common precursors of the disease. Dr. Scott Walter from the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute’s Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center is one of only two ocular oncologists practicing in Connecticut.   Q: What is ocular melanoma? A: Ocular...