Written by: Shani Fowler
The merest sign of a sniffle and off he will plod to the sanctuary of his bed; clutching a hot water bottle, declaring there couldn’t possibly be anything worse that what he has. Who is it and what does he have? Oh yes it’s my husband and he has only gone and got man flu! Talk about suffering! We do love to poke fun at the men and their man flu them don’t we? But apparently there is possibly some truth in their level of suffering…
New research from studies at Harvard University has shown that a lack of female sex hormones really does leave males with a weaker immune system. Oh they’re going to revel in this! Scientists believe that a lack of oestrogen renders men more likely to be struck with pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
This study, published in the medical journal Life Sciences, was from research where they introduced the bacterial pneumonia infection to the lungs of mice. The results found that females were naturally more resistant to the condition. This increased resistance was linked to the enzyme nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3), activated by oestrogen.
The scientists tested a further set of mice removing the gene responsible for the production of NOS3 and discovered the absence of gene meant they no longer had resistance to the infection. Furthermore, the research showed that after administering a dose of oestrogen to those male and female mice, it was found that the dose of oestrogen cleared the bacterial infection quicker than it would have in normal circumstances.
Research hopes to help prevention
It is hoped that this research can be used to enhance resistance to common and more serious lung infections and also offer assistance to prevent flu developing to pneumonia. Professor Lester Kobzik of the University’s School of Public health expressed his pleasure with the work that led them to NOS3 and believes that this work could be especially useful in the reduction of risk of secondary bacterial pneumonias during seasonal and even pandemic flus.
Women moan more about symptoms
This isn’t the first study into an explanation for man flu though. Research at Durham University undertaken last year suggests that men suffer more as they have an extra temperature receptor in the brain and therefore experience worse symptoms. (They are determined to prove it aren’t they? We have to give them that!) Although there was a study in 2013 from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that suggested women were in fact more likely to complain about their flu symptoms with males being more likely to play down the illness.
Well the jury is out on the 2013 study for me! Women moan the most – really? They say that there is many a true word spoken in gest – so surely they are not renowned for man flu for nothing! It does seem though that it is possible that we women may hold the key in our hormonal composition – making us the stronger sex! Tell us something we didn’t know!