Sauna therapy has been with us for years. They have been used to relax the body and help in managing some health conditions.
This therapy has also found extensive use in detoxifying the body. But the biggest concern too many sauna users is the safety concerns, especially with the infrared saunas. Most individuals want answers to the query “are saunas safe?” In this article, we’re going to discuss the issue and give you the answer.
A Brief History of Sauna Therapy
Human has used sauna therapy for centuries. Initially, we had the wood fire saunas; they were later replaced with rocks and heaters to induce heat stress and increase ambient temperatures. The heat stress leads to sweating, increased blood circulation, and some positive health benefits. The health benefits of saunas are immense; thus, you should not wonder when you visit your doctor, and they recommend sauna therapy for your condition.
Sauna therapy has a long history from the traditional wood-fired tent enclosures that used rocks and stones to wooden enclosures with electric hearts and rocks and stones that collect and disperse the heat.
According to some European sauna studies, some traditional saunas yield negative ions when water is poured onto the rocks. These traditional electric saunas are costly both when purchasing and installing. Additionally, they use huge amounts of electricity and require specialized wiring. Besides, the conventional electric saunas need to be heated for at least 30 minutes before you can use them. This means if you use your sauna daily, you spend about $200-$300 each month on electricity bills.
Due to the cost associated with purchasing and installing traditional electric saunas, these types are not common in clubs and gyms. The far infrared sauna has thus become more popular even in homes. The infrared saunas are readily available and more popular, and many companies engage in the manufacture of these saunas in varying sizes. Most of these units come with a floor, walls, and ceiling panels that you can easily screw together to make the sauna. These far infrared saunas can function comfortably on a 110-volt dedicated circuit of 20 amps or higher. With the far-infrared saunas, they come in a variety of wood finishes, since some individuals are chemically sensitive to the traditional cedar smells after the wood heat up.
Are Saunas Safe?
According to Harvey Simon, the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, saunas are safe for the body. Still, little scientific evidence exists to prove they have health benefits beyond a sense of well-being and relaxation. According to studies, even individuals with stable coronary artery disease can use saunas. But patients with abnormal heart rhythms, poorly controlled blood pressure, or heart valve disease need to remain cool.
Is Infrared Heat Safe?
In simple terms, we can describe infrared saunas as small rooms fitted with infrared heaters. These heaters emit infrared heats that don’t raise the temperatures in the rooms but is directly absorbed into the individual’s body. This model is similar to what happens when you sit in the sunshine; you’ll feel much warmer, although the room temperature remains cool. Therefore, an infrared sauna is a form of a dry sauna that utilizes a heater to offer the beneficial effects of a sauna. On the contrary, in wet saunas, water is poured on hot rocks to produce steam. Typically, the dangers of infrared saunas are similar to those of wet saunas and involve excess heat.
The following are some of the risks that come with the use of infrared saunas:
Dehydration and overheating
The main risk of an infrared sauna, just like the wet saunas, comes when you overdo the process. Overheating may lead to severe dehydration and fainting. Dehydration affects your electrolyte balance since you lose lots of electrolytes when you sweat. The case may be worse for the elderly since the sweat glands lose their functions as one age. It’s also essential to note a child’s body temperature rises faster than in adults, therefore if you’re a parent, you should seek the opinion of a pediatrician if you want to take your child to a sauna.
The risk of overheating increases with alcohol intake. Additionally, those on barbiturates, antihistamines, diuretics, and beta-blockers should be cautious about infrared saunas. These drugs affect the ability to sweat and may lead to dehydration. An individual with health disorders such as diabetic neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, adrenal suppression, and multiple sclerosis may also not have the capacity to handle the heat from the infrared heaters safely.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, sweating in a sauna may lead to increased itching in individuals with eczema. In similar research published in the European Journal of Pediatrics in 1989, over half of the children with Atopic dermatitis suffered worse symptoms in the sauna.
Although most individuals with heart conditions can safely use saunas, individuals suffering specific types of heart conditions should avoid using saunas; this is according to a study that was published in the American Journal of Medicine on Feb 1, 2001. This includes individuals who have suffered a heart attack recently, those with unstable angina and severe narrowing of the aortic valve. If you get into a sauna drunk, the risks of irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and sudden death are higher.
If you have any silicone implants, you should first talk to your doctor if you want to use an infrared sauna. Silicone absorbs infrared heat, thus the need to be cautious when using such saunas.
Is Far Infrared Sauna Safe?
Infrared heat therapy involves direct heating the individual’s body as opposed to heating the air around their body, as is the case with wet saunas.
As for the far-infrared saunas, about 80% of the heat emitted by the heaters gets into the individual body, and about 20% of the heat gets into the air. This form of radiant heat penetrates the individual’s skin deeper than is the case with traditional saunas. Most research on infrared saunas has found many benefits of these units and a few side effects. Although the side effects linked to the use of infrared saunas are few, you must exercise caution to be safe.
A beginner in the use of any sauna must ensure them for short sessions to limit the risks of overheating. If possible, you should use the least heat setting as your body acclimatizes to the heat.
It’s also vital to ensure you take adequate water before and after your saunas sessions. This is critical since you’ll lose lots of water in the process, and the risks of dehydration are high. Thus, it’s essential to replenish the water to enable your body to recover effectively.
After using the sauna, you may experience lightheadedness. So, you should avoid rush movements while in the sauna and after your sessions.
It’s crucial to exercise caution when using the infrared sauna. And some individuals should avoid using saunas all together.
Although visiting the sauna comes with loads of benefits, it’s essential to be careful if you suffer certain medical conditions, especially heart conditions and high blood pressure. Before deciding to use a sauna, you should seek advice from your doctor.
Besides, if you’re on medication, especially drugs that make you drowsy, you should talk to your doctor before using the sauna. Additionally, you should never use the sauna if you are under the influence of any drugs, including alcohol. And finally, if you’re pregnant or think so, you should not use the sauna unless you have backing from your doctor.
Are there any Side Effects of Using Infrared Saunas?
Sauna therapy has been used for many years for various reasons, including relaxation, ceremonial proceedings, and alternative health. That’s why you’ll find saunas in homes, Spas, gym, and healing centers in different parts of the globe. Just like the traditional saunas, infrared saunas may result in potentially severe side effects if not correctly utilized.
Although infrared saunas provide many benefits, specific individuals should not use them. For example, pregnant women should not use saunas since the risk of overheating, and dehydration is higher since a pregnant woman feels warmer due to their condition. In the early weeks of pregnancy, there is a significant rise in body temperature, and if you decide to use a sauna, the increased temperature may be risky for both the mother and the child. Children should also avoid saunas since they are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively, and they do not sweat like adults.
Although some individuals report getting relief from flu after using an infrared sauna, Medic’s advice individuals to avoid high temperatures when they have a high fever. Additionally, although moderate use of infrared saunas seems to be safe for most individuals if you suffer any chronic health condition, it’s essential to conduct your doctor first before using the sauna.
The following are some of the health risks of using infrared saunas:
Blood pressure risks
Switching rapidly from either hot or low temperatures is not advisable since it can lead to an increase in your blood pressure. This is the case when you use an infrared sauna or getting into a cold swimming pool.
Using a sauna may lead to a drop in blood pressure; thus, if you suffer lower blood pressure, it’s essential to seek your doctor’s opinion first.
Dehydrations are the main side effect of using saunas. The process results in massive sweating and loss of water and electrolytes. If you’re not careful in the sauna, you may suffer severe dehydration; this is true for children and those who opt to remain in the sauna for long. Young children and the elderly dehydrate faster compared to ordinary adults; thus, they must take caution when using the sauna. To counter dehydration, it’s vital to ensure you’re adequately hydrated before getting into the sauna and after exiting.
Certain medications can affect your heart rate your body’s ability to sweat; that’s why you should talk to your doctor before going to a sauna if you are under any medication. Besides, an infrared sauna may aggravate the side effects of certain medicines.
If you have suffered any form of injury, you should not visit the sauna until you are healed. The heat may worsen inflammation and affect the recovery process. Unit the swelling is gone, you should avoid infrared sauna.
The heat from an infrared sauna may worsen some health conditions. If you are suffering from certain health conditions such as hemophilia, hypertension, hypotension, cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease, these conditions may affect your body’s ability to cool down. Some active infections may also result in exaggerated side effects if you use the infrared sauna. In this regard, it’s vital to talk to your doctor if you suffer any of the health issues.
As you have discovered for the text above, infrared saunas offer immense health benefits, but one must be cautious to avoid any adverse health effects.
You should avoid alcohol or any other drugs if you plan to use an infrared sauna; Alcohol increases the risk of arrhythmia, dehydration hypotension, and sudden death. Additionally, you should also limit the time you use in the sauna. If you’re a beginner, you should not exceed 10 minutes in the infrared sauna; 5-10 minutes are enough. As for the pros, they should not exceed 20 minutes in the sauna.
It’s also sestina to ensure you take enough fluids before and after visiting the sauna. In the sauna, you lose lots of water due to sweating, and you must replace these lost fluids and electrolytes. After getting out of the sauna, make sure you take 2-4 glasses of water.
Although children over six years can safely use the sauna, they should do so under supervision. And note they should not be in the sauna for more than 15 minutes.
If you want to pat into the health benefits of the infrared sauna, exercise caution, and follow the set rules.
You May Also Like: