Dr. Laurentius Aswin Pramono and Yuna Eka Kristina, senior PR Manager of Larutan Cap Kaki Tiga. (JG Photo/Sylviana Hamdani)

'Panas Dalam': What It Is and How to Avoid It


OCTOBER 09, 2017

Jakarta. The weather in Jakarta has been quite trying lately. It can go from a blistering hot sunny day to a heavy downpour in just a matter of minutes.

Indonesians often say that changeable weather like this is the cause of panas dalam (literally, "inner heat"), an icky sensation with similar symptoms to a fever.

Someone suffering from panas dalam would feel weak and lightheaded, and often complain of a sore throat.

But what exactly is panas dalam? Is it a genuine medical condition?

"The name 'panas dalam' refers to a group of non-specific symptoms, usually caused by extreme weather and drastic temperature changes," Dr. Laurentius Aswin Pramono, an internist at Central Jakarta's Carolus Hospital, said during a talk show held by Larutan Cap Kaki Tiga — a local medicinal drink that Indonesians often drink to relieve panas dalam — in Jakarta on Monday (02/10).

"In the medical world, we call [panas dalam] 'seasonal flu,'" Aswin said.

In Indonesia, these drastic weather changes usually happen during the months of March, April, September and October, or musim Pancaroba (transitional season).

"During these months, hospitals are usually filled with patients complaining of 'panas dalam,'" the doctor said with a smile.

So, what actually happens to our body when we suffer from panas dalam?

"When the weather and temperatures change abruptly... it wreaks havoc with our immune system," the internist said. "The extreme weather changes also 'wake up' dormant bacteria and viruses in our environment. They then attack our body, and when our immune system is down, they can cause infections and fevers."

Some More Susceptible to Panas Dalam Than Others

According to the internist, children, pregnant women and the elderly are usually more susceptible to panas dalam.

"People with chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders, such as Lupus, are also very susceptible to panas dalam," the internist said.

There are also external factors that can cause the condition.

"Long exposure to direct sunlight can also cause panas dalam," Aswin said. "Getting rained on also has the same effect."

According to the internist, eating deep-fried and spicy foods can also bring on the condition.

First Aid for Panas Dalam

The first thing we have to do when we experience panas dalam, according to the internist, is to drink a lot of water.

"We can alleviate almost all of the symptoms of panas dalam by drinking a lot of water," Aswin said.

But if your condition worsens, you should definitely see a doctor.

"If you have a high fever, anything above 37.5 degrees Celcius, and are too weak to even get out of bed, you should see a doctor immediately, as that may indicate you're actually suffering from a serious infection," Aswin said.

You should also go to see a doctor when your sore throat and panas dalam get worse and you start coughing a lot of phlegm.

Preventing Panas Dalam

Panas dalam is an unpleasant condition that may lead to more serious illnesses. But we can easily prevent it, even during transitional season.

"Keep yourself well-hydrated during the transitional season," the internist said.

Generally, we should drink at least two liters of water every day.

You should also dress smartly to prepare for extreme weather changes.

"Make sure you stay covered when you plan to go out under the sun," Aswin said. "And don't forget to bring a raincoat, in case it rains."

You should also beef up your immune system with multi-vitamins and minerals.

"Regular exercises and getting enough rest are also essential to building a resilient immune system," Aswin said.

But if you want to be free from seasonal flu, you should also get yourself vaccinated.

"Annual influenza vaccination will help you avoid seasonal flu," the internist said.