UK & World News

  • 19 December 2012, 16:40

No Evidence of Man Flu, Scientists Say

Unwell males who complain about having "man flu" may get less sympathy in the future after a survey by scientists suggested there was no evidence to show the condition actually exists.

More than 4,000 people have so far been questioned about how they felt on a scale of 0-100 where 0 was the worst and 100 the best.

The poll showed there was no difference between men and women who reported flu-like symptoms - with a median score of 60 for both male and female participants.

There was also no difference between men and women with cold symptoms - a median of 75 among women and 78 for men.

The UK Flusurvey revealed overall that women report more flu-like symptoms than men - 11,200 per 100,000 women compared with 9,300 per 100,000 men.

Dr Alma Adler, research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who is running the project, said: "The data are very preliminary and flu levels are still very low but overall the results suggest that contrary to what we expected to find, there is no such thing as man flu.

"The next step is to find out if there is a difference in perceived cause of illness - i.e. do men and women report this differently? For example, are men more likely to claim they have flu when they actually do not have symptoms consistent with flu.

"We appeal to people to take part in the Flusurvey to help us answer these questions and more and increase our understanding of seasonal flu."

The highest rates of flu were reported in the 0-18 age group but researchers also pointed out this category has the lowest sample size of all the age groups (14%).

With schools soon closing for the holidays, flu experts will be watching closely to see if reports of illness go up or down during the festive period.

Flusurvey researcher Professor John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "Over Christmas we may be a bit more sociable than normal with drinks after work and parties but it's difficult to say if this increases our risk of flu or not.

"If you look closely at GP reports of influenza-like-illness they sometimes level off or even decline a little over the Christmas holidays.

"This is probably because schools are closed, which will reduce virus transmission, or because some GP surgeries are closed so cases do not get reported."