How to boost your immune system to fight the man flu

‘I feel like I’m dying, babe’ he says, as he lies forlorn and snuffling on the couch.

She raises an eyebrow, thinking it’s just a common cold, what a drama queen!

Is it just a common cold? Or could it be the man flu?

The term ‘man flu’ is amusing to some and offensive to others. It suggests that men exaggerate their common cold or flu symptoms, while women carry on.

But ‘man flu’ looks like it’s here to stay. Even the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries have entries for the man flu.

So, let’s take a good look at the science behind the man flu, and how you can best combat it.

What is man flu? Is man flu even a real thing?

The man flu is really just a shorthand (and backhanded) way of talking about the common cold or influenza in men.

Are there really differences in the immune systems of men and women?

According to an article published in the British Medical Journal in 2018, man-flu is scientifically plausible.1

Dr Kyle Sue reviewed several centuries of clinical and laboratory studies for respiratory infections. He found that male and female hormones may alter the intensity of the immune response to the common cold and flu.

Simply put, testosterone may weaken the immune response. And this could explain why some men feel like they might experience colds and flus more severely.

More studies are needed to explore this theory further.

Man flu symptoms

We often talk about the common cold and ‘the flu’ (influenza) as if they were the same thing. But they aren’t, since they are caused by different viruses. The common cold is caused by one of any number of rhinoviruses (there’s around 200). And the seasonal flu is caused by an influenza virus.

But there’s significant crossover in the symptoms we experience from both viruses. The table below shows the main symptoms of the flu and the common cold.

Symptoms

Flu

Abrupt onset of symptoms

Common Cold

Gradual onset of symptoms

Fever Common Rare
Cough Common Common
Sore throat Common Common
Fatigue Common Sometimes
Aches and pains Common No
Headaches Common Common
Congestion Sometimes Common
Sneezing No Common

 

Adapted from information produced by the Australian Government and the Centre for Disease Control. 3

Ways to manage the man flu

It’s not rocket science: common colds need common sense. You can’t treat colds or flu caused by viruses with antibiotics.

You could try some of the following common-sense approaches to managing the man flu:

  • Get some rest: resist the urge to power on.
  • Stay hydrated: drink plenty of fluids—particularly water—and avoid alcohol.
  • Keep warm.
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Take a vitamin and mineral supplement with ingredients shown to reduce the duration and severity of common cold and flu symptoms.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke that can trigger coughing.
  • Relieve congestion by inhaling steam from a hot bath or shower.

How to strengthen your immune system against the man flu

Having a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help supply much needed vitamins and minerals for a healthy immune system. But it’s hard to eat well enough all the time: life is busy!

That’s where a vitamin and mineral supplement like Redoxon Immunity can help you. It contains Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc, three immune system boosting micronutrients that help reduce the severity and duration of common colds and flu.

References

  1. Sue K. The science behind “man flu.” BMJ. 2017;359:j5560.
  2. Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System–Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):236.
  3. https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/10/coronavirus-covid-19-identifying-the-symptoms_2.pdf