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What is Masuk Angin?

In response to an inquiry to the expat website, we put the question out to the community to see what they thought "masuk angin" was :)

A literal translation of the term "masuk angin" is: a draft or wind has entered [the body], i.e., to have a slight cold.

masuk = to enter, angin = wind

Masuk Angin="Wind Coming/Entering"

It's also referred to by some as "trapped wind".

Our best equivalent in English is "catching a cold". Indonesians believe that the wind makes you sick (in various forms) .. and getting the wind out of your body ... by burping, farting, or "kerokan" (drawing a oiled coin over your skin repeatedly until your skin turns bright red) ... makes you the wind exit your body and you get well!

Masuk angin can mean ... chilled, indigestion, bloating, heartburn, achy flu feeling, upset stomach, and ... catching a cold .. all of which are caused by the wind, you know :)

Masuk angin is a symptom of getting sick (usually the incubation period of getting flu/cold). The symptoms are: feeling dizzy, body temperature is above normal (but you feel cold, like a fever), you feel sick inside your stomach (wanting to throw up, similar to feeling seasick if you've ever been in that situation), and cold sweats.

Masuk angin is the ordinary Indonesian's term for feeling unwell. Some people are so vulnerable to changing weather, from dry season to rainy season (we call this pancaroba - period in changing weather/season), for example; and they blame the wind (angin) as the cause). It's called masuk angin because the wind gets into your body.

If you hang out all night long (begadang), short of sleep/rest, and get angin into your body (night wind), you could catch masuk angin and feel unwell when you wake up in the morning.

Hhahahhaaa.......it's a dilemma. If you keep the angin inside your body, it causes a stomachache, but if you let it out (keluar angin), it causes other people to be sick, particularly if you keluar angin (fart) in a closed room.

I think in an air-conditioned room we should put up signs "dilarang merokok" and "dilarang keluar angin" as well (No smoking, no farting).

An article in an Indonesian newspaper states that there are many ways to treat masuk angin:

kerokan, massage, sauna, flu medicine, or traditional jamu mixtures!

And from our "You know you've gone native when ..." article:

... you prefer warm beer and even warm water because cold beverages could cause 'masuk angin'.

... when travelling in an un-airconditioned vehicle you insist on a window seat . . . so that you can ensure that the window is CLOSED (and thus avoid getting masuk angin from the breeze).

"Masuk angin" is the reason people in Indonesia are dressed up like its winter and they're going snowskiing. I never understood how someone can complain that the AC in the office is not cool enough then put on a parka, gloves, and scarf and go out into the broiling heat!

If you have medical-related questions about living in Indonesia to ask of medical professionals, see Ask the Experts.

Last updated April 20, 2016