Man flu really DOES exist: The way men's brains are wired means their symptoms really are worse
Neuroscientist Dr Amanda Ellison has argued that men really
do suffer more with coughs and colds Says they have more temperature receptors in the brain which means they get more acute symptoms
10:51 GMT, 24 January 2013
13:24 GMT, 24 January 2013
It has been scorned by women as a sign of male weakness for generations.
But a female academic is championing the argument that men really
do suffer more with coughs and colds despite being accused of acting
like babies to gain sympathy.
Dr Amanda Ellison, a neuroscientist at Durham University, says men have more temperature receptors in the brain which causes them to experience the symptoms more acutely than the fairer sex.
Dr Ellison says men have more temperature receptors in the brain which causes them to experience the symptoms more acutely than the fairer sex
The difference lies in the area of the brain which balances a variety of bodily mechanisms, including temperature.
Men and women both start out as equals in dealing with colds because the area is the same size in children.
But when boys hit puberty testosterone starts to act on the area, known as the preoptic nucleus, making it larger.
It is in the area known as the hypothalamus just underneath the cortex towards the front of the brain and hooked up to the pituitary gland, which sends out hormones.
As a result of having more receptors, men run a higher temperature and feel rougher
Dr Ellison, 38, a senior lecturer at Durham, said: 'When you have a cold one of the things that happens is you get an increase in temperature to fight off the bugs.
'The bugs can't survive at higher temperatures. When your immune system is under attack the preoptic nucleus increases temperature to kill off the bugs.'
'But men have more temperature receptors because that area of the brain is bigger in men than women.
'So men run a higher temperature and feel rougher – and if they complain they feel rough then maybe they're right.'
Previous research a number of years ago did point towards Man Flu. But the findings related to genetically engineered mice and were widely regarded as inconclusive.
Dr Ellison has used research carried out by other people on actual human brains to arrive at her conclusions in her book, Getting Your Head Around the Brian, focussing on the difference between the minds of men and women.
The original research methods involved the study of brains in post mortem as well as images obtained from scans.
'My research is on how different parts of the brain communicate with each other,' she continued.
'My role is to put two and two together. There is no hard evidence that the feelings are worse in males in females. This is a possible cause – but the argument will rage on.
'It is part of the whole argument about the differences between men and women and how their behaviour can be influenced by differences in their brains.'