Science Says Man Flu is Totally Real and We Could Totally Die

Every winter, I find myself near death for a day or two when I am struck down like a bear in a trap, and I get laid out by the worst cold of all time in the history of the world ever.

And every winter, I'm accused of overreacting and being a big baby.

My nose runs like Usain Bolt, my head gets stuffed up worse than Grandma's suitcase, and I'm so foggy, I can barely lay in bed and watch TV all day. Last time I got sick, I accidentally took two different cold medicines and slipped into a coma for seven days.

My wife says I only fell asleep on the couch for three hours, but she already under-exaggerates all my other near-death experiences, so I don't believe her about this three-hour nonsense. It felt like a seven-day coma, so I'm sticking to my story.

I'm not wimpy. These are serious, grave illnesses that have nearly killed better men than me. In fact, I have science on my side in this. Science says I'm not as wimpy as my family and the rest of society would have you believe. If only science had my back when I was in high school.
Well, not just me, but men in general. People think that men overreact when we have a cold or the flu, but they're wrong. Science says that when it comes to being sick, you should totally believe it when men say we have the worst flu ever and we'll probably die from it.

Some people call it the "man flu," using the name to mock and deride us as being sissies and unable to handle the symptoms of a common cold, unlike women who power through their illnesses without slowing down.

The Cambridge Dictionary describes "man flu" as "an illness such as a cold that is not serious, but that the person who has it treats as more serious, usually when this person is a man."

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes the Cambridge Dictionary as "an overly-pedantic and needlessly thick book that can bite me." I may be paraphrasing that a bit.

A Canadian physician and researcher at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dr. Kyle Sue, has researched "man flu" and found that we're not just making it all up. He told CTV News, "There's actually some evidence that suggests that men actually do experience worse symptoms, longer-lasting symptoms. It's not fair to write all men off as exaggerating their symptoms whenever they have a cold."

And men everywhere said, "See? See? I told you! Didn't I tell you?!" and then flopped onto the couch and asked for chicken soup and Saltines. With some 7-Up. Ooh, and a bendy straw!

Dr. "Man Flu" Sue is based in Nunavut, which is the farthest northern-most territory in Canada, so if anyone knows about getting sick over the winter, it's the Nunavummiut. Up there, winter starts two weeks before the previous one ends.

Dr. Sue pored over dozens of other past studies on gender differences and illnesses, and unearthed some interesting new facts, like that between 1997 and 2007, higher percentages of men died from influenza than women.

He also found that men are more susceptible to complications from acute respiratory disease and that we tend to suffer from more viral illnesses. He also learned that women responded better to flu vaccinations because estrogen is believed to do a better job combatting sickness.

In other words, the more burly and manly you are, the deadlier "man flu" can be. And those men who don't have as much testosterone can still be struck down and should be given every sympathy and kindness. And should be brought some more soup. Also, we're hot. Is there any more 7-Up?

The historical research bears this out. "The higher the testosterone levels, the worse the immune response; the higher the estrogen level, the stronger the immune response," Dr. Sue told "(I)t appears that testosterone may suppress the immune system, while estrogen may enhance it."

Dr. Sue published his findings in The BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal, whose accent makes them sound smarter, so this is totally legitimate and the next time I get sick and I think I may die, maybe you'll finally believe me because a British medical journal said so.

At least I hope you do because my nose has been running for the last few hours and I can feel the icy cold hand of death reaching for me once again. Only hot chocolate can save me now.

With some peppermint. And little marshmallows. And a cookie. No, wait, two cookies!

Photo credit: The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, 1787 (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

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