Skip to content

    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    The Man Cold: Why Guys React Differently to Colds

    By Amy Rushlow
    WebMD Feature

    When a man gets a cold, everything shuts down. He’s on the couch in misery -- unwilling to do anything (even go to the doctor). But a woman with a cold just bucks up and goes on about her day.

    Or so the story of the so-called “man cold” goes.

    Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

    H1N1 Flu: Interim Guidance for People With Heart Disease, Stroke, or Cardiovascular Disease

    Clinicians and health departments should see H1N1 Flu and Patients With Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Disease and Stroke): Interim Guidance and Considerations for Health Care Providers and for State and Local Public Health Agencies. This document provides interim guidance and will be updated as needed. H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): General Information The information below is important for people with heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Maintain a two week...

    Read the H1N1 Flu: Interim Guidance for People With Heart Disease, Stroke, or Cardiovascular Disease article > >

    “If a woman has a viral infection or cold, so to speak, she’ll go on with her day’s activities and maybe mention it to a friend,” says psychology expert William Pollack, PhD, explaining the stereotype. “Men will fuss about it and feel like it’s getting in their way, or be angry or irritable that they have to deal with it.”

    Put simply, the “man cold” refers to the idea that men handle colds and the flu worse than women.

    But is there any truth to the myth?

    Symptoms: His vs. Hers

    Experts say men and women may, in fact, respond differently to colds.

    “I’ve definitely seen it, but not to such epic proportions as some make it sound,” Pollack says.

    The difference is less about gender and more about personality, explains Robert L. Wergin, MD, chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians board of directors.

    “I certainly have a group of patients that are very in tune with their bodies and have lots of concerns about their health, he says. “So when they have a cold, they magnify it to some degree.”

    These patients, Wergin says, tend to think that their symptoms mean something worse is going on. They might have a minor cold, but they’re worried it’s pneumonia.

    “It’s a mix of men and women,” he says.

    Biological Differences

    The man cold might have some biological truth to it. Some studies say men may have more symptoms than women when they have a cold.

    “Regarding colds, there may be some impact of sex,” says Kim Templeton, MD, a surgeon at the University of Kansas Hospital. Templeton has done extensive studies on gender differences in health.

    The female sex hormone estrogen slows down how fast a virus multiplies, Templeton says. This may lead to fewer symptoms. The flu virus may not spread as quickly in women because of estrogen and how the female body reacts to it. Studies have not shown if the same thing applies to the cold virus.

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
     
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
     
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    Slideshow
    cold weather
    VIDEO
     
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Article
    Boy holding ear
    Slideshow
     
    woman receiving vaccine shot
    Article
    woman with fever
    Article
     
    Waking up from sleep
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Slideshow