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 men and women have different brains, new research has claimed.
Neuroscientist Amanda Ellison, of Britain's Durham University, has reached the conclusion that men really do suffer more with coughs and colds as they have more temperature receptors in the brain.
Dr Ellison said the difference lies in the area of the brain which balances a variety of bodily mechanisms, including temperature.
Men and women 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, 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 can't 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 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 human brains to arrive at her conclusions in her book, Getting Your Head Around the Brain, focusing on the difference between the minds of men and women. The original research methods involved the study of brains in post mortem as well as images obtained from scans.