War of the sexes alive, if not well, in man-flu survey

By Mathew Dearnaley

Symptoms most commonly reported by women were 'increased moaning, complaining and in need of more attention'. Photo / Thinkstock
Symptoms most commonly reported by women were 'increased moaning, complaining and in need of more attention'. Photo / Thinkstock

"Man flu" is alive and unwell, particularly in the minds of New Zealand women.

A survey of 922 Kiwis, either married or in de facto relationships, has found 76 per cent believe "man flu" - in which males suffer flu-like symptoms to a greater degree than women - may exist.

The belief is stronger in women, of whom 80 per cent accept the possibility of such an affliction, compared with 71 per cent of men who answered the online questionnaire conducted for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

Symptoms most commonly reported by women were "increased moaning, complaining and in need of more attention", followed by a burning need to lie on a couch watching television.

An overwhelming majority of women - 98 per cent - believed men expected more sympathy than they did when they got sick.

A large majority of those surveyed of both genders - 79 per cent - believed the whole household suffered from a greater need for sympathy when "man flu" struck.

Only 52 per cent of South Island males believed they may have suffered from the condition.

But that support for the idea of southern men as more rugged than northerners was undermined by 75 per cent of their women thinking they may have been afflicted.

That compared with 71 per cent of Auckland women who said as much about their partners.

An overwhelming majority of southern women - 84 per cent - thought it took their partners longer to recover from flu than them, compared with 77 per cent of Auckland females.

Although the survey should be seen as more sociologically than medically-based, university researchers in Queensland found last year that "man flu" could have a valid scientific explanation.

They noticed that young women enjoyed a stronger immune response than their male counterparts to rhinoviruses that were responsible for the common cold.

The differences disappeared after menopause, suggesting to the researchers from the University of Queensland's School of Medicine that the immune system is regulated better by female than male sex hormones.

A survey for GlaxoSmithKline in Australia found Australians appeared to take longer to recover from flu of whatever kind.

The average time taken by New Zealand men and women was reported at 4.4 days, compared to 4.9 days for Australians.

- NZ Herald

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