Today I just had to tap out and admit I needed a day at home to rest. I’ve been fighting a cold for over a week. It started to hit me Sunday, when I had a 2 day committee meeting….with a group of Infection Preventionists (Sorry if I made anyone sick!). ‘Tis the season for colds and flus – it is what it is and actually I’m pretty happy that I made it almost to Christmas before catching something.
This morning, while relaxing, I caught up on some reading and low and behold I came across a study that made me chuckle. The timing of course with being sick couldn’t have been better! I came across an article “The science behind man-flu” by Dr. Kyle Sue from the University of Alberta that explored whether men are wimps or just immunologically inferior. OMG! Who hasn’t mocked their spouse, partner, brother, father, friend or co-worker for being a baby when sick!
Across the ages, women have often been called the fairer sex. It’s a stereotype that is hard to escape. In trying to understand this association, scientists have shown that we automatically link lighter or fairer colours with female names and qualities, and darker shades with more masculine attributes. How then is it that when it comes to getting sick, women handle it better than men? According to the Oxford Dictionary, “man-flu” is defined as "a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms." Sue conducted a literature review to determine if men really experience worse symptoms then women and whether this difference has any evolutionary basis. One study Sue referenced isolated cells from 63 healthy people and infected the cells with a common virus. The researchers found the cells from women had a stronger immune response than those from men. Some of the other interesting tidbits included the fact that men had a higher risk of hospital admission with the flu, men had higher rates of flu-associated deaths compared to women, women are more responsive to vaccination than men and while perhaps one of the least scientific supported evidence, a survey found that men suffering from a flu reported taking more time off from work than women.
The things that make you go hmmm….. I guess it’s true that estrogen does have its advantages from time to time! Too bad it let me down this week, but it gives me the opportunity to drink a hot-toddy before bed!