What is it about the myth?
According to the so-called men’s flu, men suffer more from colds than women. We explain what is really behind the myth.
What is the men’s flu?
The term male flu is actually a bit misleading. Because he describes somewhat ironically the widespread assumption that men suffer more often and more severely from colds and their symptoms than women. The keyword here is the term cold. Because: A real flu is actually not to be trifled with. In addition to classic symptoms such as coughing and runny nose, this also causes fevers of up to 40 degrees and a very strong feeling of illness. It can take up to three weeks for the flu to cure, while a cold is usually over after a week.
Four reasons men often suffer more than women
But the myth of the male flu cannot be completely dismissed – name or not. Because there are actually some gender-specific factors that cause more suffering from the annoying male cold.
1. Differences in the immune system
The immune systems of women and men work differently when defending themselves against pathogens. If viruses or bacteria enter the body, the immune system acts through two different systems:
- Non-specific defense system: This is understood to be the innate immune reaction, which is quite general and is not directed against a specific pathogen.
- Specific defense system: Here the body forms special defense cells against certain pathogens. The defense cells only multiply in the event of an acute infection and then attack the viruses and bacteria.
The fact that the immune reaction in women and men is often different is due to the distribution of the sex hormone estrogen. This hormone, which is more present in women, stimulates the production of specific immune cells, which is why the female immune system acts faster and harder against pathogens than that of men. The increased testosterone level in men also plays a role in men’s flu. Because: the more testosterone, the less estrogen there is and therefore less antibodies. This actually makes men more susceptible to infections in general and also ensures that it often takes longer before the disease is over. It is also one of the reasons that men develop fewer antibodies than women after a flu shot, for example.
2. Genetic differences
The male genes also ensure that the immune defense in men does not always run smoothly. Women have two X chromosomes with a particularly large number of genes that regulate the body’s defense processes. Instead, men have an X and a Y chromosome and accordingly fewer genes that promote the immune system.
3. Women are pain-tested – but also more sensitive to pain
According to study results, immune reactions are usually stronger in women than in men, which generally makes them more sensitive to pain. But: Menstrual problems every month, painful births – women have to endure a lot one way or another. Precisely this hardens them up a bit, so that they usually pay less attention to their complaints. Men, on the other hand, concentrate more quickly on individual symptoms with the men’s flu and therefore suffer more.
4. The health awareness among women is greater
Studies show: women are often much more health-conscious than men. For example, they tend to pay more attention to a healthy diet and adequate vaccination protection. But women are also more likely to follow simple tips to protect against infection– For example, they wash their hands three times as often a day as men.
Your partner has the men’s flu? These tips will help!
If your partner has the bad man’s cold, it’s best to use a few home remedies. These include, for example:
- The classic chicken soup – it contains a lot of protein, which can reduce inflammatory reactions in the body.
- Keeping warm, for example with a hot water bottle in the back or with a blanket on the couch.
- Drinking tea is also always a good idea – chamomile, for example, has anti-inflammatory effects, and thyme helps against coughs.
You can get even more tips in the article Home remedies for colds.
Preventive measures against the male flu
It is true that not all factors that favor male flu can be eliminated, but there are a few general health tips, with which men are also more likely to stay healthy:
- Wash your hands several times a day – but at least after every use of the toilet.
- Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Ventilate adequately: Open the windows fully three times a day for about five to ten minutes so that there is a draft.
- Regular exercise, i.e. at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes, strengthens the immune system. It can also be a long walk or a bike ride.
Reading tips: Here you can find out more about home remedies for a cough and home remedies for a runny nose.
Herold, G. et al .: Internal Medicine, self-published, 2021
Mayer, JG et al .: Handbuch der Klosterheilkunde, Zabert Sandmann Verlag, 10th edition, 2006
German Nutrition Society (DGE): Vegetables and fruit – all-rounders when it comes to health protection