He, she and the flu virus. What happens when fever and cold break out in the couple? An investigation shines a light on the intimacy of respiratory disease experienced by men and women. And it emerges that he more often rushes to bed and rests (11.9% against 7%), she stays at home but takes action with self-medication and ‘wise’ remedies (58.6% against 38.8%). The family doctor? You only call if there is no improvement, she answers in almost 6 cases out of 10. While he to a greater extent prefers to make the call immediately (21.9% versus 17.2%). Males stumble more when it comes to therapeutic choices: more than double (5.2% versus 2.3%) compared to women, when faced with common viral respiratory infections and the flu they would mistakenly take an antibiotic immediately because it “goes away quicker”. The portrait emerges from research conducted by Human Highway for Assosalute (National Association of self-medication drugs, part of Federchimica) and touches on age-old gender differences that have always been debated.
It is now a widespread belief, a starting point for jokes and easy irony: if a man comes down with the flu, as soon as the thermometer shows a few lines of fever, he ends up Ko, lying under layers of blankets. Major English dictionaries even have an ad hoc entry: ‘man flu’, understood as “a cold-like illness that is not serious but which the person suffering from it considers more serious, and this person is usually a man”, we read for example on the one in Cambridge. Science has investigated, arriving at sometimes conflicting conclusions.
What strikes virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco, commenting on the survey data to time.news Salute, is in particular the slip-up regarding the antibiotic. “There is a ‘hard core’ of people, especially among males, who use a therapeutic ‘cannon’ when it is not needed”, he reflects, also calling into question “all the problems of antibiotic resistance” related to this improper use. “Vaccinations – he observes – can also reduce this inappropriate use of antibiotics, because they reduce the problem of symptoms and the risk of medical overprescriptions”, perhaps in response to heartfelt requests from patients who are heavily affected by the flu.
The survey continues the comparison between men and women, and it turns out that if the fever is very high, once again almost twice as many males as females would rush to the emergency room (4.4% versus 2.3%). The man wins in practicality: it is better to get vaccinated, so you certainly won’t get sick, is the choice indicated by a much higher number of male interviewees (9.8% versus 5.9%). Women are more supportive of the use of self-medication drugs: 58.6% (20 percentage points more than men) believe that the wisest things to do are rest, over-the-counter drugs and contacting the doctor only if there is no improvement. Men, on the other hand, tend to “behave less aware and autonomous, if not reckless or careless”, describe the authors of the research. And the reference is also to another figure: it is they who to a greater extent – 4.6% versus 3.2% – would continue with their usual life (work, social life, sport) without doing anything. A male world full of contrasts, therefore.
But chicken broth and hot milk bring everyone together, smoothing out any gender gap. Both sexes, in fact, to the same extent choose ‘help from the table’, that is, a change in diet by increasing liquids and vitamins. “Then the use of chicken and milk proteins has its own rationale – reasons Pregliasco – When you are ill there can be a loss of appetite and these are foods that people like to eat more”.
A general graph shows how the choice of remedies used in response to the first flu symptoms has evolved. In recent years, food supplements and vitamins have displaced grandmother’s drinks (broth, hot milk and herbal teas), but also antibiotics, which however remain the third most used remedy in case of flu (in 16% of cases). , particularly among men (20.2%) and young people (29%).
What drives male-female differences in the face of influenza has not yet been fully explained. However, the studies continue, and in the wake of their conclusions we witness continuous twists and turns. The most recent, at the end of 2022, is an Austrian study which concluded that there is no evidence to support a definition of ‘male flu’, because from the data collected, women reported a higher burden of subjective symptoms of acute rhinosinusitis. But at the same time the authors reported that women recovered faster than men. This data was also confirmed by a survey which showed that men take an average of 3 days to recover from flu-like illnesses compared to 1.5 days which is the recovery time reported by women.
In the past, however, evidence of the existence of a different syndrome for him, which justified this greater ‘physical degradation’, had been found and brought to the attention of the general public. The acquittal was contained in a study published in the ‘British Medical Journal’. Male influence, the thesis went, really exists. The author, a researcher from a Canadian university, had reviewed previous research on the topic and concluded that seasonal viruses affect him more than her, with more serious symptoms due to a weaker immune response to this type of attack by of the male organism. Some of the work examined in this review, conducted on mice, also suggested the mechanism: testosterone – according to the hypothesis advanced – could ‘dampen’ the immune response to influenza, while some female sex hormones could enhance it. Therefore, it was the warning, be careful to consider influenced men as ‘imaginary sick people’.
#virus #divides #men #women