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How To Help Your Husband Through His Man Cold

Today’s episode is on the lighter side. But did you know that researchers have actually done studies on the phenomenon of the man cold or man flu? You may be wondering if it’s really worse for a man to have a cold than for a woman? Well: like we say every time, we have the research, the truth and the answers you’re looking for! That’s right, today we’re going to be talking about the very serious and culturally under-acknowledged and deeply stigmatized issue of man colds.  Do Men Suffer More Than Woman? Funny enough, there have been a few research journal articles published on the man cold or man flu phenomenon. There was a joke article published in the British Medical Journal where a researcher tried to establish whether men were immunologically inferior or if they were just wimps. Fast forwarding to the conclusion, the researcher from the University of Alberta suggested that “Perhaps now is the time for male friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort"[i]. Another Research Group Responds Not content to let the issue lie, another group of researchers (who perhaps had too much time on their hands)[ii] wrote in to the British Medical Journal with their own investigation. "Being men ourselves, and having had several near death experiences enduring the flu, we were intrigued by the same question as Dr. Sue." In their study 15 men and 15 women were injected with a flu virus and their responses were measured. They found that women have a stronger immune response to the virus than men, meaning that women naturally recover from colds and flu more quickly while men suffer from them more severely. "We indeed found that the male subjects did not erect shelves, maintain cars or attend a football match (or engaged in reproductive activities for that matter) directly following [our] study, illustrating how inflammation may affect social life.[iii]". So some (not all) research shows that men may experience cold and flu symptoms more severely. But they may also communicate their illness in different ways. A study from 2018[iv] found that men and women "moaned and complained equally" when ill with cold symptoms but that men had a tendency to sigh and take long deep breaths more often. This perhaps suggests a tendency to exaggerate symptom severity. Overall research suggests that men may experience cold and flu more severely due to women having a stronger immune response. I think this warrants some sympathy! How To Help Your Ill Spouse It is interesting to follow this gender issue further. We’ll give you some practical info to help be that caring wife that you always wanted to be! Get Him To The Doctor! Men are much less likely to seek medical help regarding illnesses than women[v], or may seek help but do so much later once symptoms have gotten worse. This is thought to be due to "traditionally masculine beliefs" about wanting to cope with illness on your own and being reluctant to seek help. So if your husband is complaining about illness but refusing to do anything about it, get him to a doctor! Be Sympathetic, But Not Too Sympathetic This one is interesting. Research from 2018[vi] found that your expectations of how severe an illness will be can actually impact how severe it is. Expecting an illness to be very severe can lead to negative mood and anxiety, and these can increase the severity of the symptoms you feel. So when comforting your spouse you want to be sympathetic and supportive, but making too big a deal of the illness can make it worse. Your Communication Style Impacts Your Marriage More Than Your Cold Now let’s look in a bit more depth about how illness can affect your marriage. Communication forms the link between illness and marital quality. How you speak to each other when one of you is ill has more of an effect on marriage than the actual il...