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Women who are unsympathetic when their man takes to his sick bed with what seems like a slight sniffle should perhaps think again.

For there is such a thing as man flu, a medical expert insists. Dr Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, says men have weaker immune responses to respiratory viruses.

This may be because cavemen developed the flaw to stop them hunting while ill, he claims.

Studies show testosterone may make men less able to fight off the flu. And it is women who are the more likely to stay at home with just one symptom of minor illness, he says.

Sue said: “Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women”.

Sue said men might be hit harder by flu as a strategy for survival from our caveman days, it kept them safe from predators and conserved their energy.

“Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed, or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionary behaviours that protect against predators,” he remarked wryly.

“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.”