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Buoy Data: Mars vs Venus & Covid-19

Written by Laurie Tarkan, Senior Editor at Buoy Health

UpdatedFebruary 28, 2024

Men and women who were concerned they had COVID-19 reported the same top five symptoms—cough, sore throat, fever, stuffy or runny nose, and headache.

But men were more likely to list the two most severe symptoms—cough and fever—than women, according to Buoy data.

Women were more likely to say they had a headache and sore throat.

Current data suggests that more men have severe disease and have died from COVID-19 worldwide than women. Research published in Nature found that men are more likely to have inflammation when sick, which may explain the greater prevalence of fever complaints.

Animal studies support this theory, finding that male mice had more symptoms of sickness than females when exposed to bacteria, including more changes in body temperature, fever, and signs of inflammation. They also took longer to recover.

Women generally have a stronger immune response to viruses and bacteria than men. There are several theories but many believe it’s partly because the X chromosome contains a high density of immune-related genes (and women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y).

Women are more likely to get headaches when sick, and three times as likely to suffer from migraines. Theories have suggested that fluctuations in estrogen trigger headaches.

The percentage of people using the Buoy symptom checker who were concerned they had COVID-19 peaked in March 2020—the height of the pandemic. But by March 2021, that number had dropped significantly.

Our findings are based on Buoy symptom checker data from users between March 2020 and April 2021.