5 Dangers Of Sauna Therapy

When you think of a sauna, your mind conjures up images of a refreshing steam bath that leaves you sweaty but relaxed. Sauna therapy has been used for hundreds of years not only as a means to relax and rejuvenate but also to heal and cure. Studies have found that sauna therapy can be an effective way to help treat numerous conditions like hypertension, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There is also evidence that saunas have the ability to cleanse and detoxify your body. Though it’s generally considered safe, a visit to the sauna is not without its risks. Here are a few you need to watch out for.

1. Getting Burned



While you might think it’s common sense to be careful and not get yourself burnt in a steam room, you might be surprised at the number of people who go to the hospital due to sauna-induced burns. Statistics show that in Finland, one sauna burn a day needs hospitalization and one in four burns are sauna-related. Though most contact burns are accidental and are treated easily, these accidents could become serious too. Sauna room temperatures can often reach 190F or sometimes even higher. If you’re not careful, hot air burns can penetrate through all the layers of your skin causing third-degree burns that require surgery, and in extreme cases, even amputation.

2. Difficulty In Conceiving



If you’re a man who is trying for a baby, the sauna may not be the best place for you. Spending time in a sauna increases your body temperature which is not conducive to the growth of sperm. The result could be a dip in your sperm count causing difficulty in conceiving. While studies have found that the effect is temporary and reversible, according to a particular study, it may take up to five weeks for your count to return to normal. Also, saunas should be avoided by pregnant women to prevent embryonic or fetal abnormalities.

3. Fungal Infections



The warm and wet environment of a sauna can be a breeding ground for many different types of microorganisms. Visiting a sauna could make you vulnerable to common fungal infections like toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. The Journal of the American Medical Association documented a case of a young man who developed fever and chills after using the sauna regularly. The reason was traced back to a moldy bucket that was used to pour water over the sauna heater. So just because the room has steam, does not imply that it’s sterile.

4. Water Contamination



Saunas make you sweat and lose water through your skin. Thirst is a natural response to dehydration and being in a sauna will make you feel thirsty. But maintain caution about the water you drink at the sauna, especially when you’re traveling. The sauna could be connected to well water or other sources of non-potable water that is not safe for drinking. In a case where water from ten Turkish baths located in Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria was tested, it was found that 50% of them were contaminated with fecal matter.

5. Illusion Of Weight-Loss



You might have come across ads that claim sauna treatments can melt your fat away like butter on a hot pan. Unfortunately, your body does not work like that. When you spend time in a sauna, you invariably sweat and end up losing a lot of water. However, body fat melts only when your metabolic rate increases and your body starts using stored fat to create energy. The sweating that you experience in a sauna is just you losing water weight, which of course comes back when you drink water and other fluids.

Using the sauna regularly can be a wonderful way to rejuvenate your body. However, taking a few precautions can make sure you don’t hurt yourself in the process. Listen to your body and stay in the sauna only until you feel comfortable. Step out when you feel a burning sensation on your skin. Watch out for slippery floors and sit away from the steam pipes. Also, refrain from drinking alcohol before going into the sauna. Passing out in the sauna can be fatal.