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The myth of the man flu has been disproved with new research showing men don't exaggerate cold and flu symptoms as much as we think.

Men have been keeping quiet about illness, which slows them from opening up about more serious health risks, according to a study conducted by the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line.

Men's Health Week began on Monday, aiming to promote physical and emotional health and wellbeing among Australian men, who have a life expectancy of four years less than women, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Four-fifths of male respondents to the study say they aren't badly affected by colds and fewer than one in 10 expect to be looked after by their partner.

Telephone data shows women are twice as likely to call the advice line to discuss their symptoms and ask for information than men.

And while nearly half of women tell their loved ones when they feel under the weather, men are more likely to keep it a secret, thwarting the cliche that they complain unnecessarily.

The study shows that only a quarter of men tell their partner if they have a cold and fewer than one in ten tell their friends.

More than half of men don't take cough or cold medicine and only a third take Vitamin C or a natural remedy.

The Aussie male stereotype has led to men being silenced about important health matters, says Medibank's health line medical director Dr Georgia Karabatsos.

"It's really important, as a nation, that we don't let the Aussie male stereotype put pressure on the male population to stay silent about ill health or abnormalities," she said in a statement.

She says "man flu" is often joked about, but leads to some men feeling unable to discuss their health.

"While it's not necessary to seek advice for every cold, it's essential men feel able to discuss more serious symptoms," Dr Karabatsos said.

The research was conducted by Galaxy Research for the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line on April 19 to 24 on a sample of 1061 people across the country.

The West Australian

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