IT HAS been scorned by women as a sign of male weakness for generations – but "Man Flu" might not be a myth after all as they have different brains, a female academic has claimed.
Dr Amanda Ellison claims that men really do suffer more with coughs and colds as they have more temperature receptors in the brain, which causes them to experience the symptoms more acutely than the fairer sex.
The Durham University-based neuroscientist says the difference lies in the area of the brain which balances a variety of bodily mechanisms, including temperature.
Men and women both start out as equals in dealing with colds because the area, known as the preoptic nucleus, is the same size in children.
But when boys hit puberty, testosterone starts to act on the area, which is in the brain's hypothalamus and attached to a hormone gland, making it larger.
Dr Ellison, 38, a senior lecturer at Durham, said: "When you have a cold, one of the things that happens is you get an increase in temperature to fight off the bugs. The bugs cannot survive at higher temperatures. When your immune system is under attack the preoptic nucleus increases temperature to kill off the bugs.
"But men have more temperature receptors because that area of the brain is bigger in men than women.
"So men run a higher temperature and feel rougher – and if they complain they feel rough, then maybe they're right."
Previous research a number of years ago did point towards the reality of "Man Flu". But the findings related to genetically engineered mice and were widely regarded as inconclusive.
Dr Ellison has used research carried out by other people on actual human brains to arrive at her conclusions in her book, Getting Your Head Around the Brain, focusing on the difference between men and women.
"My research is on how different parts of the brain communicate with each other," she continued.
Her research in mapping out different areas of the brain and showing how they work together in a network could be used to teach brain damaged victims how to engage other areas of the brain to cope with day to day living. — The Daily Telegraph