A recent survey drawn from 1000 men and women in Australia show that 21% of men were sick with the flu and only 19% of women last year. Although women seem to be affected by the common cold more, men get hit harder with influenza as testosterone is found to potentially weaken their immune response at a cellular level.
Medibank’s medical director Kevin Cheng said that hormones could play a role in why men are affected more than women.
He said: “Further to experiencing more severe symptoms, this data is also showing that men appear to be more susceptible to the flu in the first place, with weaker responses to flu vaccinations observed in some males with higher testosterone levels.”
Interestingly, Cheng goes on to say that the female oestrogen hormone has been found to hold antiviral qualities that could help women limit the replication of the virus in the body.
Here are some tips from Medibank on how to avoid catching the lurgy:
Tips on how to avoid catching a cold or flu this winter
- Wash your hands. We all know that washing your hands regularly helps prevent the spread of germs. But to ensure you’re never caught out, make sure you always have some hand sanitiser nearby wherever you go.
- Regular exercise. There are many health benefits to exercise, but when it comes to fighting off colds, increasing your heart rate has been found to strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off sickness.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation affects your body’s ability to work at its full capacity and fight off germs. It’s recommended you aim for around eight hours of sleep each night, depending on your age.
What to do if you come down with a cold or flu
- Avoid exercising. If you’re feeling up to exercising, the general rule is that if your symptoms are above the neck, such as a blocked nose or sneezing, you should be fine. However if you’re coughing or have a temperature, it’s best to wait until your symptoms subside.
- Stay hydrated. Your body is best equipped to fight infection when it’s hydrated. Not only will it help replace the fluids lost while sick but it’ll also help relieve congestion.
- Warm liquids. Soups, broths and herbal teas not only soothe a sore throat, but also help symptoms like coughing and congestion. Find the perfect soup recipe here.
- Sleep, sleep, sleep. Your body needs time to rest and reboot, so try to put your feet up until your symptoms subside.
- See your doctor. If symptoms persist or worsen, make sure you visit your GP to get the situation checked out.