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"Man Flu" Does Exist: Why Men Experience Worse Cold Symptoms Than Women

Update Date: Jan 24, 2013 01:27 PM EST
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The Wikipedia system accurately predicted the numbers for three out of the six flu seasons. (Photo : Microsoft)

Ladies, there is a reason why your man always acts like a helpless baby when he gets a slightly higher temperature- and it's not because he's trying to get your sympathy.

In fact, scientific research shows that men really do suffer more coughs and colds than women because they have more temperature receptors in the brain.  Researchers said that man's greater amount of temperature receptors makes him experience the symptoms more acutely than women.

Dr. Amanda Ellison, a neuroscientist at Durham University, said that the difference lies in the brain region that balances a variety of bodily mechanisms like temperature.

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Ellison explains that both men and women start out as equals when fighting off colds because the area known as the preoptic nucleus is the same size in boys and girls.

However, scientists explain that when boys reach puberty, their testosterone starts to make the preoptic nucleus larger. The preoptic nucleus sits in the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus just underneath the cortex near the front of the brain and attached to the hormonal pituitary gland.

"When you have a cold one of the things that happens is you get an increase in temperature to fight off the bugs," Ellison said, according to The Telegraph.

"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," she said.

"But men have more temperature receptors because that area of the brain is bigger in men than women," Ellison explained.  "So men run a higher temperature and feel rougher - and if they complain they feel rough then maybe they're right."

In the past, many scientists have found evidence of "Man Flu" but the studies on genetically engineered mice were regarded as inconclusive.

However, Ellison analyzed research carried out by other scientists on actual human brains to make her conclusions in her book Getting Your Head Around the Brain, which focuses on the difference between the minds of men and women.

Many of the studies included in Ellison's book involved the study of brains in post mortem as well as in images obtained from brain scans.

"My research is on how different parts of the brain communicate with each other," Ellison said.

"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," she said

"It is part of the whole argument about the differences between men and women and how their behavior can be influenced by differences in their brains," Ellison explained.

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