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Colds and flu can have a greater effect on women than men, according to a new study based on the reports of their own symptoms.
The women in the study were more likely than the men in the study reported severe fatigue and muscle aches when they have a cold or the flu, according to the findings, presented in New Orleans last month at IDWeek 2016, a meeting of various organizations that focus on infectious diseases. The findings are not published in a peer-reviewed journal.
In addition, women with severe symptoms took longer than men, according to the study participants’ self-reports, the researchers found.
In the study, the researchers compared self-reported cold and flu symptoms in 777 men and women, who were seen between 2009 and 2014 at five military treatment facilities in the U.S., said study co-author Dr. Robert Deiss, a physician-researcher with the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program, a program of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The people in the study were both in active service in the army or were relatives of people in the army, ” he said.
When the patients first went for treatment, the health care took a nasal swab to determine what kind of infection she had, and asked the patients about the symptoms that she had since she became ill. The participants were also asked to begin keeping a diary of their symptoms and the severity of symptoms on a scale of 0 to 3, where 0 indicates that they do not have the symptom, 1 indicating mild symptoms, 2 indicating moderate symptoms and 3 indicating severe symptoms, according to the study.
The symptoms included lower-respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty breathing and chest pain; upper-respiratory infections, such as earache, runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing; and “systemic” symptoms, which included fatigue, headache and muscle aches.
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The researchers found that infections of Enterovirus, and corona virus (both of which can lead to colds), and influenza virus common among the participants. They also found that the different types of viruses infected men and women roughly the same rates, Deiss said.
However, women are more likely than men to report moderate or severe ear pain, headache and loss of appetite when they first went to the doctor, the researchers found. Women were also more likely than men to report severe symptoms of fatigue and muscle pain.
But the researchers also found that men and women reported similar levels of symptom severity when they looked back on their first few days that you are sick, Deiss said. It was not until the third day of being ill that men and women reported differences: From this point on, women are more likely than men to continue to report severe symptoms, he said.
Because the symptoms were self-reported, it is unclear whether some people minimized their symptoms, while others emphasized enough they, Deiss noted. What the researchers conclude from the study is that there seems to be a difference in how men and women their symptoms, ” he said.
In the future, the researchers hope to look at the biological differences in cold and flu symptoms in men versus women, Deiss said. Hormonal differences may play a role in how the immune system responds to these viruses, ” he said.
Originally published on Live Science.