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Let’s Discuss That a Doctor Claimed “Man Flu” Is Real

Picture this: it’s Tuesday of finals week, and I’m taking a five-minute break from essay-writing by scrolling through my Facebook feed, which is notably lacking in substance due to the aforementioned finals preventing my friends from doing and sharing fun things.

What should appear on my screen as I leisurely scroll but a news outlet’s article titled “Study: The ‘man flu’ is a real thing.” Cue my hysterical laughter. Naturally, I had to click on it.

(Here it is for anyone else who could use a good chuckle: http://6abc.com/health/study-the-man-flu-is-a-real-thing/2772397/?sf176082149=1)

Upon doing further investigation, I found that Dr. Kyle Sue was asked to give a two-minute presentation for a crowd with non-medical backgrounds on an interesting topic of his choice. “Tired of being accused of overreacting,” he decided to speak about the existence of ‘man flu’ in order to “provide evidence for men around the world to defend themselves.”

Sue argues that men may have naturally weaker immune systems than women, making them “more susceptible to complications.” He also points out that men have a lower pain tolerance. Sue himself stated that this “immunity gap” is “certainly not definitive.” Part of the gap is based on how the sexes respond differently to vaccinations. Regardless of the basis, there are many scientists who argue there is far too little evidence to support the “immunity gap’s” existence.

Sue claimed that “Epidemiologic data from Hong Kong showed that adult men had a higher risk of hospital admission for flu.” He also cited an American study that found that between 1997 and 2007, more men died from flu-related deaths than same-age women.

While I cannot state this isn’t true, I would like to point out there are alternative factors that could be influencing this result. More men being admitted into hospitals could be a result of more men finding the need to go to the hospital because they, as stated by Sue, are more sensitive to the symptoms, not because they have stronger symptoms.

As far as the death rate, how a person takes care of himself/herself can influence the severity of the illness. On the opposite end of the spectrum of men who feel the need to go to the hospital for anything, there are men who refuse to go to the hospital, even when they need to. Some men may be less likely to take medications, some men may not change their sleeping/dietary patterns to try to boost their immune systems; there are countless factors that may influence “flu-RELATED deaths.” 

Can we also take a moment to consider the fact that this study was published in an actual medical journal? The British Medical Journal, while in an issue focused on the “whimsical side of medical research,” is a very real medical journal that published Sue’s argument for men everywhere.

I don’t think that men getting whiny about being sick necessarily is an attempt to exploit the women caring for them–they may actually feel really really sick. They have a lower pain tolerance. They have a weaker immune system. So, you know what? Let’s let them have this. If they want to promote that we can handle more than they can, that’s fine.

In his study, Sue wrote: “immunologically speaking, men are the weaker sex,” This may be the only time in history we get to see the words “men-are-the-weaker-sex” strung together by a male. So, honestly, I’m not mad at this study, as a lot of people in the comments section were. I find it hilarious.





English Education major at Gettysburg College. My friends hate me for correcting their grammar, but I know they secretly appreciate it.
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