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You’ve Seen The ‘Man-Cold’ Memes, But Do Guys Really Get Sicker Than Gals?

We all know how the stereotype goes. A kid brings a cold back from school and inevitably gets their mom sick. Mom ends up with the sniffles and minor aches, but she powers through and keeps being mom. Meals still get cooked, chores still get done, and in a couple of days, mom bounces back. 

Then the dad gets sick with the same cold, but the outcome is very different. Bedridden for days, the “man cold” hits hard. Even tasks as simple as picking up the TV remote can be a challenge. 

The man cold or “man flu” is a term that has become so common that it is now included in the Oxford dictionary. Oxford defines it as “a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.”

So is that what is really happening? Are men just wimps exaggerating their symptoms, or is there something else going on here?

Before we answer that question, it is important to note that a handful of factors determine the severity of symptoms from a viral respiratory illness like a cold or the flu. But all other things being equal, could a cold actually impact men differently than women?

The man cold meme: just a joke, or based in science?

There is some precedent for a medical condition affecting men differently than women. For example, when men have a heart attack, they tend to experience “crushing chest pain,” while women are more likely to have “atypical” symptoms such as nausea or shortness of breath. 

And more recently, there have been some studies that suggest a potential explanation for the man-cold. Published in the British Medical Journalthis article compiled results from studies that showed that testosterone in male mice could dampen the immune response to the flu. 

The research is far from conclusive, given that only small rodent studies have found an association between male hormones and immune response. Still, it does shed a glimmer of hope for men wanting to prove to their wives that they aren’t just being dramatic. 

The key takeaway? Women are probably just tougher than men, and that is the reason behind the man-cold. 

Jokes aside, cold and flu season is coming, and regardless of how tough you are, we should all prepare by ensuring our immune system is in tip-top shape. The foods we eat (and the ones we avoid), daily movement and exercise, quality sleep, and finding healthy ways to minimize stress are all factors that will determine how well we can fight off whatever this winter throws our way.

**The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion. Click HERE to sign up today!**

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