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

Vasectomy Clinic

A March Madness Shocker: It’s the Tallwood Vasectomy Clinic!

FARMINGTON – While you’re laid up on the couch recovering from your vasectomy, you may as well have something fun to watch, right? That seems to be the thought behind a craze dubbed “Vas Madness” in which doctors and healthcare systems see an increase in the number of vasectomy procedures...

Non-Proprietary Medicine pill Bottles

How to Dispose of Prescription Meds, Properly, Without Leaving the House

Here’s a great way to warm up for spring-cleaning season. Retrieve all unused prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, bathroom drawers and your keep-it-away-from-the-kids hiding spot in the kitchen. Wait! Don’t just drop them in the household trashcan. And avoid the convenience of the nearest toilet. The Food and Drug Administration...


Newington WWII Veteran Awarded French Knight of the Legion of Honor

More than seven decades after he served in World War II, John Faenza of Newington has received the highest possible military honor an American can receive from the French people. With his wife, children, friends and former co-workers by his side, the 93-year-old Cedar Mountain Commons resident was awarded an honorary...


Tallwood Men’s Health: Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States and worldwide. For the man who regularly consults with his doctor, however, heart disease and its potentially fatal consequences are usually avoidable. Dr. Waseem Chaudhry is a preventive cardiologist at the Hartford HealthCare Tallwood Men’s Health Center....


Tallwood Men’s Health: A Guy’s Medical Man Cave

The statistics say it all: Men are nearly one-and-a-half times as likely as women to die from almost every chronic medical condition. On average, men live five years less than women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. But a new program at Hartford HealthCare has been designed to...