Sauna Safety

Sauna Safety & Contraindications

Regular Sauna usage has proven benefits for one’s overall health.  There is a plethora of research outlining the benefits of sauna usage, but rarely there are articles that provide details on sauna safety.  If you have any doubt about the safety of sauna usage, please consult your primary care physician before starting a sauna regiment.  First let’s review the risks that many occur during sauna usage.  The most obvious is overheating & dehydration.  According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health (NCIB) “sauna bathing is safe, however, for most people with coronary heart disease with stable angina pectoris or history of myocardial infarction. Very few acute myocardial infarction and sudden deaths occur in saunas.  Alcohol consumption during sauna bathing increases the risk of hypotension, arrhythmia, and sudden death, and should be avoided.”  According to the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) becoming overheated in a sauna is not recommended during pregnancy. 

Precautions:

To avoid any negative effects take the following precautions into account:

Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol increases the risk of dehydration. Other risks include hypotension (low blood pressure), arrhythmia, and sudden death.

Medication: If you are taking any prescribed or certain over the counter medications, you should consult with your physician first.  The change in core body temperature can effect your medication.  Diuretics, barbiturates, and beta-blockers may impair your body’s natural heat loss mechanisms. 

Age: Your age can play a role in how much time should be spent sauna bathing.  The core body temperate of a child raises much faster than that of an adult.  Consult with your child's pediatrician first.  The ability to maintain core body temperature decreases with age. The elderly may have a difficult time cooling the body due to circulation ad decreased sweat gland functioning.  

Cardiovascular Conditions: Sauna usage has positive cardiovascular effects; however, individual with cardiac conditions may be not be suitable for sauna bathing.  Please consult with your cardiologist before starting your sauna regiment.  As the body regulates heat, one's cardiac output & blood flow increases.  This will lead to an increase in heart beats.      

Conditions That Effect The Ability to Sweat: There are certain medical conditions that can significantly reduce the ability to perspire.  Conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes with Neuropathy & conditions that effect the Central Nervous System, should have prior medical clearance.  

Hemophiliacs: Those with a predisposition to bleeding should avoid infrared saunas.  

Fever or illness: Saunas should be avoided f you have the flu, are extremely sick or running a fever.  

Feeling Dizzy or Tired: Exit the sauna immediately if you feel dizzy or an overwhelming sense of tiredness.  It’s important to relax but do not fall asleep or lose track of time. 

Limit time spent in sauna: It’s very easy to lose track of time. First time users should spend between 5-10 minutes in the sauna at a time.  As you become accustomed to the heat, work your way up to 20 minutes.  Do not spend more than 20 minutes in a given session. 

Drink Plenty of water:  It is important to replace the fluid you lost from sweating to avoid dehydration.  Make sure you hydrate before and immediately after sauna usage. 

Know when to avoid: Skip your sauna session if you are sick, have a fever or are pregnant.

   

 

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11165553

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/saunas


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