Influenza, commonly known as Influenza, is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system. It can cause mild to severe illness and in severe cases, can lead to hospitalization or even death.  In this blog, we will explore the Ayurvedic perspective on Influenza, including its symptoms, causes, types, prevention, and treatment.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a viral infection caused by the Influenza virus. It spreads from person to person through the air when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. The virus can also spread by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.
Ayurvedic Perspective on Symptoms
According to Ayurveda, the symptoms of Influenza include aggravation of the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and a loss of Ojas(vigour). Influenza can cause symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, fatigue, and nasal congestion.
Causes of Influenza
The general consensus among experts is that the primary mode of transmission for flu viruses is through small droplets that are produced when infected individuals cough, sneeze, or speak. These droplets can potentially infect nearby individuals if they land in their mouths or noses. While less common, it’s also possible to contract Influenza by touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus and then touching one’s own mouth, nose, or eyes.
As per Ayurveda, the causes of Influenza are can be attributed to the accumulation of Ama (toxic substances) in the body, which weakens the immune system and makes the body more susceptible to infections. Influenza can also be caused by an imbalance in the doshas, especially Vata and Kapha.
Types of Influenza
Seasonal Influenza viruses can be categorized into four types, which are A, B, C, and D. The viruses that commonly cause epidemics are Influenza A and B. Influenza A is further divided into subtypes based on the surface proteins hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). 
Currently, the circulating Influenza A subtypes in humans are A(h2N1) and A(H3N2). A(h2N1) is also referred to as A(h2N1)pdm09 since it caused a pandemic in 2009 and replaced the seasonal Influenza A(h2N1) virus that was present before 2009. It’s important to note that only Influenza A viruses have caused pandemics. 
Influenza B viruses are not categorized into subtypes but can be separated into lineages. The presently circulating Influenza B viruses belong to the B/Yamagata or B/Victoria lineage. 
Influenza C virus is less commonly detected and generally causes milder infections, so it is not a significant public health concern. 
Influenza D viruses primarily impact cattle and have not been reported to infect or cause illness in humans. 
How to Prevent Influenza
Prevention is the best cure for Influenza. Along with Vaccination, Influenza can be prevented by following certain guidelines. These include: 
- Regularly washing your hands with soap and water.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoiding touching your face.
- Drinking warm water throughout the day.
Remedies for Influenza in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, the remedies for Influenza are based on the individual’s Doshic imbalance and the type of Influenza. They usually involve a combination of herbal remedies, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications. 
Tulsi (Holy Basil) , Guduchi , Ginger , Turmeric , Black Pepper  and Aloe vera are some of the commonly used herbs/ plants in Ayurveda to make decoctions to treat Influenza. These herbs have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. 
Dietary changes such as avoiding dairy products, and heavy, oily, and spicy foods are recommended during the treatment of Influenza. Instead, a light, warm, and easily digestible diet is advised. 
Lifestyle modifications such as avoiding stress, practising pranayama, yoga and meditation and getting plenty of rest are also recommended. 
1. How long is someone contagious with Influenza?
People with Influenza are generally contagious for about a day before symptoms appear and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for longer.
2. Who is at higher risk of complications from Influenza?
Certain groups of people are at higher risk of complications from Influenza, including young children, elderly individuals, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions such as asthma or heart disease.
3. Can the influenza vaccine make you fall sick?
No, the vaccine cannot give you influenza. The vaccine is made from inactivated or weakened viruses, so it cannot cause influenza. However, some people may experience mild side effects after getting the vaccine.
4. Can you get Influenza more than once in a season?
Yes, it is possible to get Influenza more than once in a season, especially if there are multiple strains of the virus circulating. However, getting a flu vaccine can reduce the likelihood of getting Influenza multiple times.
5. Is Influenza the same as COVID-19?
No, Influenza and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. While they may have some similar symptoms, such as fever and cough, they are not the same illness. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while Influenza is caused by the influenza virus.
Influenza is a viral infection that can cause mild to severe illness. In Ayurveda, Influenza is viewed as an imbalance of the doshas and can be treated with a combination of herbal remedies, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications. Prevention is key, and simple measures such as regular handwashing and avoiding close contact with sick people can go a long way in preventing the spread of Influenza. That said it is recommended to immediately consult a medical practitioner if the symptoms are too severe instead of relying on Ayurvedic remedies alone.
Disclaimer: This article is only for providing generic information, please consult a trained medical practitioner every time before initiating any treatment.
- Key Facts About Influenza (Flu) | CDC
- Ideal Ayurvedic Management Of Swine Flu (researchgate.net)
- Influenza (Seasonal) (who.int)
- Ayurvedic Approach To Treat Swine Flu (researchgate.net)
- Therapeutic And Preventive Approach On Swine Flu In Ayurveda: A Critical Review