Why men get bed-ridden by cold

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2011, 16:29 PM IST

London: Men really do suffer more than women when they get a cold, according to a new research.

The male immune system is less effective at fighting off infections than the female system and that means men feel worse when battling illness than women, researchers have shown.

Dr Ramona Scotland, of Queen Mary University of London, led a team which studied the immune systems of mice and rats given a host of different infections.

They looked at the white blood cells in the lungs and stomach, which act as the body’s first line of defence against infection.

“We found that the females had around twice as many white blood cells than males which was a huge surprise,” a newspaper quoted her as saying.

“For all types of illness, the female mice and rats were less sick than the male.

“I believe that the same will be true for people because this is a very ancient part of the mammal’s immune response.

“Man flu is a bit of a joke but from what I’m seeing there is a real difference,” she added.

Despite the findings, men do sometimes ham up illness, however.

A survey of 1,200 manual workers earlier this year found that men admit a tendency to exaggerate the severity of their symptoms when they get a cold.

The study has been published in the journal Blood.