When Gina Gallo, a school librarian in Lacombe, La., gets sick, she can take
care of herself. She gets her own medicine, makes her own food, and "deals with
it," as she puts it. But when her fiancé gets a cold, she says he has "a
complete system breakdown."
"The world stops and the whining is incessant," she says. "I am expected to
bring him food, take care of him, and generally treat him like the baby that he
Ask any doctor if you should take antibiotics for the flu, and you’ll get a
weary shake of the head and a resounding no. “Viral infections like the
flu aren’t affected by antibiotics,” says William Schaffner, MD, chairman of
the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University’s School of
Medicine in Nashville. “You might as well take a placebo.”
Instead, antiviral medication can be used to treat the viral infections like
the flu. But that is a different type of medicine than antibiotics...
Gallo's fiancé declined to talk with WebMD for this story. Their Mars-Venus
situation may strike a nerve with anyone who's dealt with similar antics at
home or watched the popular "Man Cold" video on
With more than 4 million views to date, the humorous clip shows a groaning,
couch-laden man who phones the paramedics for an emergency — his cold. They
promptly administer assistance and scold his wife, who is also sick, for not
understanding the gravity of the situation: "For God's sake, woman. He's a man.
He has a man cold."
Coined in the U.K., "man cold" or "man flu" is a tongue-in-cheek expression
to describe a man's way of dealing with the common cold. For instance, men who
are sick may hole up under the covers sniffling for sympathy and insisting that
it's "more than a cold," while women who are sick will carry on with their
Although this sardonic portrayal of the "man cold" is played for laughs, is
there any truth to this characterization of the sexes? In other words, do men
and women respond to colds differently?
'Man Cold' Debunked
There's nothing in the medical literature to back up any difference in men's
and women's colds, says William Schaffner, MD, infectious disease specialist
and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of
But men are less likely than women to seek medical advice when they are
Researchers at England's University of Glasgow studied nearly 1,700 people
and found that men were more likely than women to overrate their common cold
symptoms. The researchers theorized that men and women have different
thresholds for perceiving and reporting symptoms, rather than actual
differences in symptoms.
That is, their cold symptoms were the same. But men and women responded
differently to those symptoms.