Women cope with illness better than men

19 January 2017

Women fall ill much more often than men but tend to cope with the symptoms better, research finds.

A total of 2,000 parents were surveyed and 68 per cent of the women admitted they had become more prone to feeling unwell since having children. On average, women fall ill 324 times during their offspring’s childhood, with most of the health issues passed on from the kids themselves.

From the results of the poll - conducted by supplements company Healthspan - it was discovered that mothers suffer from 54 colds, 108 sore throats and runny noses and 36 stomach bugs, around two each year, on top of an annual dose of flu.

To add to these problems, mums are also likely to endure a yearly boat of head lice due to their children catching them at school and passing them on.

Read more: ‘Man flu’ is REAL, experts declare

However, 36 per cent of the women reported that they soldier on when under the weather, whereas their male partners are more likely to stay in bed.

And an impressive 72 per cent of ladies were convinced they handled the side effects of their illness much better than their other halves.

“This may be related to our innate drive to do everything we can to ensure our offspring's survival,” psychologist Dr. Meg Arroll said of the results.

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“In our ancestors' time, men would have needed to be fit and well in face of a threat. But women, having different roles, safeguarded their family. We haven't changed that much and so even now with differing gender roles, women's protective instincts kick in. They care for others (over themselves), whereas men maintain their own physical fitness in order to protect and provide for their families.”

These findings also show that ‘man flu’ is in fact real. Medical director at Healthspan, Dr. Sarah Brewer, notes that although the term derives from hypochondria, anxiety over one’s health, and a desire to gain sympathy from others, there is evidence that men suffer more severe symptoms than women.

One study in 2015 found that the female hormone oestrogen boosted resistance against infection from influenza flu when added to nasal cells, whereas men’s nasal cells had less protection.

“This suggests there is a real gender difference in the way men and women respond to colds and flu. Men may really experience worse nasal symptoms (stuffiness, soreness, runniness, sinusitis) than women when they have a viral infection,” Dr. Brewer added.

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