The steam sauna has been used for hundreds of years, however, many people are not familiar with infrared saunas and how safe or unsafe they are. So, are there any infrared sauna risks? Can an infrared sauna be beneficial for everyone? I’ll explore the potential health benefits of the infrared sauna, and common concerns, as we learn more about how they work.
Are there any infrared sauna risks? Generally speaking, infrared sauna use is safe, as long as you limit the amount of time you spend in it, do not consume alcohol, stay hydrated, and speak with your doctor if you’re currently taking any medication. However, people with certain health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, women who are pregnant, and men who plan on having children in the near future should avoid sauna use. If you’re not sure whether or not IR sauna use is safe for you, speak with your doctor or pharmacist prior to purchasing a sauna.
If you want to get all of the infrared light benefits in a small form factor go to my Buyer’s guide on some of the best infrared sauna blankets for 2020! To learn more, read on to find out what risks are associated with sauna use and what you can do to stay safe.
Why Infrared Therapy Works
Not all saunas work the same way. The steam sauna relies on the use of heat in order to make the air hot, while the infrared sauna will utilize heat and light in order to generate warmth. These saunas also utilize infrared radiation, which should not be confused with ultraviolet radiation which is used in tanning beds. IR will heat the skin up to one hundred degrees, which makes the skin release toxins and sweat.
Research has shown us that there are many health benefits associated with IR therapy. Some of these benefits include:
- Improved sleep
- Stress relief
- Headache relief
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved circulation
- Pain relief
- Lower risk of heart disease
Some people use saunas because they can induce reactions that are similar to what occurs with exercise. Most people who find steam saunas to be uncomfortable will find infrared saunas to be a much better, more enjoyable alternative.
Overall, saunas have been proven to help people who are suffering from migraines, arthritis, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and many other conditions. A study showed that an impressive twenty-three percent drop in heart disease in men who used a sauna more than two days a week.
Dangers Associated with Sauna Use
If you’re concerned about the risks associated with sauna use, then you’ll be happy to learn that there are only minimal dangers linked to infrared saunas.
However, men who plan on having children in the future may want to avoid using a sauna as the heat can affect sperm motility. Saunas also have a positive impact on blood pressure, so people with cardiovascular issues may want to incorporate sauna use into their heart health treatment plan.
Did you know that the sweat induced by a sauna treatment session can help to remove toxic metals? However, too much sweating can be risky for people with severe heart conditions.
How to Use a Sauna Safely
You can safely enjoy using a sauna daily for a session no longer than forty-five minutes. If you’re new to sauna use, then you may not want to exceed twenty minutes three to four times a week for the first month. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after use in order to prevent dehydration. It’s important to replace the electrolytes and fluids that were expelled through sweat during sauna use. If you fail to hydrate properly then you may find it difficult to sweat. We recommend drinking at least half your body weight in ounces daily. If you’re dehydrated when you begin treatment you may be at risk of fainting or heatstroke. Drink at least sixteen ounces of water prior to entering the sauna.
Did you know that heat can change the effect of certain prescription ‘drugs? Because of this, it’s important that you speak with your primary care physician regarding possible drug interactions. A drug interaction can occur when the body is exposed to elevated temperatures or infrared waves. Painkillers and diuretics, in addition to beta blockers, can all hinder the natural heat loss mechanisms in the body. Some types of over the counter medications, such as allergy medication, can put the body at an increased risk of heat stroke. If you’re prone to bleeding or you take blood thinners, speak with your doctor prior to purchasing an infrared sauna.
Children and Sauna Use
A child’s core body temperature will rise at a much faster rate than that of an adult’s because of the higher metabolic rate per body mass. For children, sessions should be limited to fifteen minutes. Additionally, make sure you encourage plenty of fluids and operate the sauna at a lower temperature.
Seniors and Sauna Use
In order to maintain core body temperature, the body must be able to activate its natural cooling process. It must also have the ability to sweat once the temperatures rise above ninety degrees, in order to consider sauna use safe. But as we grow older, we lose the ability to maintain our core body temperature. Sauna use can help people who are unable to regulate their core body temperature, especially for those who feel chronically cold. The feeling of being cold is due in part to thinner skin and circulatory issues. For elderly use, the temperature of the sauna should be lowered to around one hundred and ten to one hundred and fifteen degrees. Additionally, shorter sessions of fifteen minutes are also necessary.
People with cardiovascular conditions or people with congestive heart failure, hypertension, people with low blood pressure, and people who are taking meds which can affect blood pressure may need to avoid using a sauna or exercise caution when they’re exposed to heat for a prolonged period of time. Heat can place undue stress on the body and may even increase blood flow and cardiac output in an attempt to transfer internal body heat to the respiratory system and to the outside environment by sweating. This occurs due to significant changes in the heart rate.
Never drink alcohol when using a sauna. If you’re intoxicated you may not realize that your body feels overheated or dehydrated. Never sweat out a hangover since alcohol dehydrates the body. Instead of using your sauna, simply increase your water intake.
If you have a disease or condition that reduces your body’s ability to sweat, then you should not use a sauna. Avoid using a sauna if you have multiple sclerosis, diabetes with neuropathy, or central nervous system tumors. These conditions are linked to impaired sweating. You should also avoid sauna use if you’re heat intolerant.
If you have recently injured yourself, you should avoid sauna use for the first two days following an injury or until the pain and inflammation subside. If you have a joint condition in which your joints are chronically swollen and hot, then heat may aggravate your condition and lead to worsening symptoms.
Can You Recommend a Sauna With Extra Safety Features?
The JNH Lifestyles MG301HCB MG317HB Far Infrared Sauna comes loaded with some great features including a control panel that allows you to precisely set the temperature and a timer, so you can control the length of each session. Many saunas in this price range don’t give you this much control over the length of a session, which is why this is one of JNH’s top-selling models. It also comes with a clear glass door that’s easy to see in and out of. To learn more about the best infrared saunas on the market, including this model by JNH, click here to view our buyer’s guide.
Is it Dangerous to Stay in a Sauna for too Long?
It can be. Even an infrared sauna can cause you to feel overheated or may even cause dehydration if you stay in it for longer than thirty to forty-five minutes. The length of time it’s safe for you to remain in a sauna will depend on how long you’ve had the sauna, your overall health, and whether or not you’ve had enough water that particular day. if you’d like to learn more about sauna safety and proper use, click here to read our article on how long to stay in sauna.
Can Sauna Use Help with Weight Loss?
Some studies have shown that a thirty-minute sauna session can cause the body to burn calories similar to that of a moderately intense workout. Other ways a sauna can aid in weight loss is to help you ditch that water weight. Water weight can range from just one pound up to ten pounds. Regular sauna use can help your body to let go of all that water weight for instant weight loss. Just keep in mind, as soon as you’re hydrated, some of that water weight will go right back on. However, if you have regular issues with water weight or water retention that’s due to fluctuating hormone levels, then sauna use can be a major help.
When used correctly, saunas can be a great, safe way to lose weight, detoxify the body, relieve pain and stress, or simply relax.
In terms of infrared sauna risks, users are encouraged to drink water before, during, and after use in order to prevent dehydration. If you’re taking medication, speak with your pharmacist or doctor in order to prevent any adverse reactions. People with conditions that limit the body’s ability to sweat, such as diabetes should avoid sauna use or speak with your physician prior to use.