The whining. The complaining. The “woe-is-me-I-feel-terrible” season is once again upon us. But this year is sure to be worse for women as the under-the-weather men in their life thrust pages of a medical peer review journal at them as proof that their illness is far worse than anything any woman has ever experienced.
Cross yourselves, everyone. Dr. Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor in family medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland, has determined that “man-flu” could be a real thing.
The “man-flu,” as defined by Sue, is “a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of symptoms.”
According to his findings in the British Medical Journal, — which encourages lighthearted material for its Christmas edition, but never anything not based in scientific data and factual research, — Sue says, “The concept of man flu, as commonly defined, is potentially unjust.”
The fact is, while man flu may be real, men shouldn’t get too uppity in their vindication. Sue’s research essentially suggests the male human species is genetically inferior to women when it comes to immunity. Therefore, they feel worse because they technically are sicker.
According to his review, men aren’t whiners, but rather the immunologically inferior sex, a phenomenon for which there might be evolutionary explanations.
Sue found evidence men tend to have worse symptoms, be hospitalized more, and die more often from influenza than women, regardless of underlying disease.
…if the gender differences are real, “men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women,” Sue writes.
Sue writes the reasons for a less robust immune system in men may be physiological and developed over time “because males of many species are more likely to die from trauma before an infection kills them,” Sue said.
The energy needed to clear their bodies of viruses may have been better invested in other “biological processes,” he said, like growth, muscle development and reproduction.
“Evolutionarily we selected more for men with bigger muscles and more physical strength as opposed to a better immune system,” he said. Men also had to compete with other men — the “live hard, die young” strategy — that led to “less investment in immunity.”
Sue writes, “Rather than dismissing men as exaggerating symptoms, it’s worth taking them seriously,” and jokingly suggests “male friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort.”
Uh huh. Nice try.