Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)
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Introduction

 

Influenza or shleshmak jwar is one of the few diseases that we share in common with the birds, in whom it is much more popular. The scare of the bird flu has not yet subsided completely from the world, but did you know that human influenza if ignored is just as dangerous and just as lethal? Influenza is a disease that does not see rich or poor, young or old, man or woman, etc. It strikes everyone equally and kills in an equal number. History records the incident of the Spanish Flu at the end of the World War I, which killed nearly 700,000 people in the US alone. It is important then to know about this disease fully well and check out our options as regards to its prevention and treatment.

Definition of Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)

 

Influenza is basically a pulmonary disease, i.e. a disease of the lungs. It is characterized by fevers, coughs and muscle aches. It is a highly infectious disease caused by the virus known simply as the influenza virus.

One more important aspects of influenza is its unexplained seasonality. The cases of influenza become more acute in the winter months (of the northern hemisphere). Majority of the influenza cases occur between December and March. Similarly, in some years, influenza can spread much more than in other years. It can become a pandemic, killing millions of people. In the last century, there have been three such major influenza pandemics around the globe, which are named according to the region they originated in, as Spanish Flu, Asian Flu and Hong Kong Flu.

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Causes of Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)

Influenza is a viral disease. There are several strains of viruses that can cause influenza in humans, based on which there are different types of influenza. These viruses are simply named as H1N1, H1N2, H2N2, H3N2, H5N1, H7N2, H7N3, H7N7, H9N2 and H10N7.

Since it is a viral disease, it affects primarily the respiratory system of humans. The common symptoms are sneezing and coughing. During these acts, the virus is expelled from the mouth. If some other person happens to inhale this contaminated air, there is a probability that that person will be infected too.

Influenza is one of the most rapidly transmitted diseases known to humans. Some strains of the influenza viruses are transmitted through vector agencies, i.e. through birds or animals such as lambs and sheep. The influenza virus can mutate itself over generations in order to pass through one species to another.

According to Ayurvedic principles, influenza or shleshmak jwar can be treated as both as a vata dosha as well as a kapha dosha disease. The udaana vata is responsible for the proper functioning of the thoracic cavity, which houses the respiratory system. Among the kapha doshas, avalambika kapha is responsible for the proper secretion of all fluids throughout the respiratory tract, i.e. from the lungs to the nose. Any vitiation in the udaana vata or the avalambika kapha can trigger the onset of an influenza attack.

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Influenza Symptoms(Shleshmak Jwar)

Influenza symptoms are very similar to common cold symptoms, but there are two major differences:-

Influenza symptoms last longer than common cold symptoms; they last for usually 1 to 2 weeks.

Influenza symptoms are much more severe than the symptoms of common cold.

The following are the prime symptoms that are observed in people who are infected by the influenza virus:-

There are constant fevers.

There is an alternating state of feeling better, and then worsening of the condition.

The person will have chills and body aches.

Nausea and vomiting may occur in some cases.

Nose is congested; the congestion is more than the stuffiness during common cold.

There are heavy bouts of coughing and sneezing.

Sensitive persons may get throbbing headaches.

Eyes get reddened and there is a prickly or a burning sensation in them.

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Complications due to Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)

Every year, hundred of thousands of people die due to influenza and the various complications of this killer disease. Influenza begins much like common cold, and is very difficult to diagnose between the two diseases in the preliminary cases. Even doctors get flummoxed at this stage and may make a wrong diagnosis. This is when people neglect the symptoms and seek treatment only when it is too late.

Influenza, if left untreated for over a week, may develop into pneumonia. Pneumonia is an extremely deadly disease and is responsible for a large number of infantile deaths. In fact most infants who die of influenza, actually die due to the contraction of pneumonia in them. Pneumonia also kills several elderly people who contract the condition.

Apart from causing its own complications, influenza can make things more difficult for people with other medical conditions. The following are some of them:-

(i) People with other respiratory tract problems like bronchitis, asthma and emphysema might find a critical worsening in their breathing capacity when they are infected with the influenza virus. There will be shortness of breath and heavy gasping, which may lead to death of the person.

(ii) People with heart ailments like coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure will find very aggravating conditions due to infection with influenza. These people will probably die if the influenza is not treated at once.

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Transmission of Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)

Influenza is a viral disease that is transmitted from one person to another either directly or through the agency of a vector such as birds and animals. The most common way of transmission is through breathing air that has been infected by an influenza patient via coughing or sneezing.

Influenza gets transmitted very quickly and at a very short notice. In most cases, influenza gets transmitted so fast that governmental authorities are incapable to supply adequate numbers of vaccination shots, thus compounding the problem.

Hence, influenza and its patients must be treated with great caution. It is perhaps the most infectious disease in the world today.

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Prevention of Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)

The surest way of preventing influenza is to get vaccinated. Since the active viruses that spread influenza change their trends every year, it is necessary to get vaccinated every year. Babies who are between six months to two years in age must be given first priority in giving vaccination shots; so also must elderly people above 60 years. Chronic heart ailments can exacerbate the condition of influenza, even leading the person to his or her death. Thus such people must be given their shots in time. People working in healthcare facilities must take due precaution in getting vaccinated also, since they are exposed to several other people.

However, during pandemics, there is often a shortage of influenza vaccinations. In such times, it is necessary to take other precautionary measures. The following are some tips:-

  • Avoid crowded places. Travel in private vehicles as far as possible.
  • Do not repeat clothes without washing them.
  • Use a good quality hand wash lotion to remove possible viruses on them.
  • Discourage people from sneezing and coughing in public. Tell them to use a handkerchief.
  • Drink only boiled and filtered water.

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Diet during Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)

Ayurveda prescribes a diet that is suitable for people who are suffering from influenza and related disorders. The diet must be both vata and kapha pacifying, because these are the two doshas which cause influenza.

All non-vegetarian, i.e. flesh foods must be stopped when the fever of influenza begins showing up. Eggs also must be stopped.

Among the vegetables, the green and leafy vegetables must be preferred as they can aid in proper digestion. This will reduce the effects of nausea and vomiting.

Influenza fevers leave a bad taste in the mouth, which can lead to depression in the patient. If the person has fenugreek or bitter gourd in any form, then this bad taste is allayed. Also, there is an increase in the appetite.

Most Ayurveda experts profess the consumption of an all-fruit diet for the period when the fever remains. Apples and bananas are the best fruits under these circumstances. But oranges, sweet limes, watermelons and such other fruits must be totally avoided as they can exacerbate the cold symptoms.

When the fever shows signs of withdrawal, then milk can be introduced in the diet. Milk provides the proteins that are needed for the replenishment of the body after the fever.

Any strong and difficult-to-digest food must be totally eliminated from the diet, and this should continue for up to a week after the influenza is treated. This includes spicy and oily foods, Chinese dishes, strongly flavored foods, salt, milk products, etc. Such foods can increase constipation since the digestive system may be worn out during the disease.

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Ayurvedic Treatment for Influenza (Shleshmak Jwar)

There are so many herbs that are beneficial in one way or the other in eliminating or reducing symptoms of shleshmak jwar that all cannot be mentioned here. The following table lists some of the more efficacious herbs with the kind of action they have on the body.

Ayurvedic Name of the Herb

Biological Name of the Herb

Common English Name of the Herb

Action on the Human Body

Ber

Zizyphus jujuba

Zizyphus

Zizyphus fruit is squashed and taken in a teaspoonful quantity in order to reduce the bouts of recurrent influenza. There is better effect if a pinch of powder of black pepper is added to the paste.

Kali Mirch

Piper nigrum

Pepper

Pepper is one of the best cures for influenza and its complications. About six pepper seeds powdered and mixed in a glass of water with sugar is very effective in reducing the symptoms of influenza.

Marua

Origanum majorana

Marjoram

The marjoram herb accumulates warmth from the sun which helps to reduce the symptoms of common cold and influenza. Its tea can stimulate the sweat glands and thus can reduce the gestation period of fevers. The moisture of the skin that is lost due to influenza can be replenished by taking marjoram tea.

Methi

Trigonella foenum graecum

Fenugreek

Fenugreek is effective in the early stages of influenza. It brings about perspiration and reduces the gestation period of fevers.

Pyaaz

Allium cepa

Onion

Onion can dissolve the phlegm and help to release it from the respiratory tract. Raw onions can thus reduce chest congestions.

Tulsi

Ocimum sanctum

Holy basil

Holy basil is taken as a decoction in water to allay the symptoms of influenza, which include coughing, sneezing and fevers. Holy basil leaves, some cloves and common salt is put in water and then boiled till only half the water is left behind. This is drunk when still warm.

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Thank You for this report it is quite impressive.
#1 - MiaTan - 08/01/2012 - 06:38
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