Catching a cold is an annoying yet common part of life. You might wake up one day with that telltale tickle in your throat, only to find yourself dealing with a runny nose, sneezing, and general discomfort shortly thereafter. Many people look for ways to alleviate these symptoms, and one method that often comes into question is using a sauna when sick with a cold. The warmth and steam of a sauna may seem like a logical remedy, but is it a valid means to "sweat out the sickness?" In other words, is a saunas good for a cold?
Let's explore the fundamental facts surrounding common colds and uncover what science reveals about the burning question “does a sauna help a cold?” Along the way, we'll outline the potential benefits for easing symptoms, recommended precautions for using saunas when you're under the weather, and identify the benefits of sauna use for preventing sickness.
Defining the Common Cold
The common cold is typically caused by rhinoviruses and affects the upper respiratory tract. Symptoms include everything from a stuffy nose to muscle aches which usually last around a week. Many adults experience a couple of colds each year, and although they're generally harmless, they are unquestionably bothersome.
Can You Sweat Out a Cold?
Traditional sauna use has been linked with a laundry list of immediate and long-term benefits, like helping reduce stress, support muscle recovery, strengthen the cardiovascular and immune systems, and more. But when it comes to colds, the idea of "sweating out" the sickness is a common misconception.
While saunas may provide temporary relief from symptoms, they will not eliminate the underlying viral infection. There's no shortcut to healing from a cold; the body must fight off the virus, which requires time. The best course of action is to support your immune system through rest, hydration, and proper nutrition.
Sauna Use for Cold Symptom Relief
While a few sauna sessions won’t cure you of your cold, using the sauna when sick may help provide some relief from nagging symptoms. Here are some of the ways a sauna may help you feel better while you get over your cold:
1.Relieve Congestion and Ease Breathing
Steam inhalation is a well-known remedy for colds, often used to open mucous membranes, clear blocked sinuses, and ease pressure and congestion.
A clinical trial that examined this practice further illustrates its effectiveness. In this study, 62 patients with common colds were asked to inhale saturated, hot air at temperatures ranging from 42 to 44°C (107-111°F) through their noses for two 20-minute sessions. The results were promising; the actively treated group experienced a significant increase in nasal openness and relief from cold symptoms when compared to the placebo-treated group.
This principle finds an application in the use of saunas, as well. The humid, heated environment of a sauna, has the ability to expand the airways and diminish chest and nasal congestion.
2.Promote Better Sleep
It’s well known that a lack of sleep can negatively impact your immune system, and getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to help your body heal from the common cold. Unfortunately, another well-known fact is that getting a good night’s sleep while getting over a cold isn’t always easy.
A quick sauna session before bed can help raise your core temperature, initiate your body’s natural cool-down response, and in turn, signal the release of the body’s sleep hormone, melatonin.
Engaged in restful sleep, your body and mind can enter “recovery mode,” and help you heal. However, precautions should be taken. For instance, if you are weak and feverish, or dehydrated, sauna use is not advised.
3.Natural Endorphin Production
A session in the sauna can boost endorphins—our natural pain relievers, by up to three times their normal levels. These "feel good" hormones can help reduce stress, pain, inflammation, and discomfort, and promote overall feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
How Long Should You Sauna When You Are Sick?
First and foremost, it is always strongly recommended to listen to your body. When you’re recovering from illness, don't push it. Most experts recommend no more than 15 to 20 minutes in a sauna when experiencing a cold.
Take extra precautions to stay hydrated as saunas can cause dehydration, a cold symptom you may already be experiencing. If you are feeling feverish and weak, very sick, or if your blood pressure is elevated (which can happen when fighting a cold), avoid using a sauna.
Additionally, individuals with heart conditions should always consult a doctor before using a sauna, especially during illness.
Using Sauna to Prevent Cold & Sickness
No one wants to fall victim to a cold or flu, especially during the peak season. Fortunately, by taking proactive measures, you can fortify your immune system to better defend against these common ailments. Early precautions such as maintaining a healthy diet, ensuring adequate sleep, engaging in regular exercise, and making use of saunas can provide comprehensive support to your immune health.
Utilizing a sauna offers particular benefits, including stress reduction and assistance in achieving more restorative sleep. Beyond relaxation, deliberate exposure to heat in a sauna stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are vital in combating infections. It also enhances blood circulation, leading to improved distribution of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Studies further underscore the importance of deliberate heat stress from saunas, showing that it activates heat shock proteins, known to play a pivotal role in immune function.
Saunas offer potential benefits for those suffering from a cold, such as relieving congestion, reducing stress, and aiding sleep. However, it's vital to remember that the only real way to get rid of a cold is to let it run its course.
Caution is essential, particularly for those with heart conditions, fever, or elevated blood pressure. Always listen to your body, consult healthcare providers when needed, and take appropriate precautions. Following guidelines for sauna use and keeping sessions short when sick can provide relief without risk.
Finally, you can help prevent the onset of pesky colds with healthy habits, like regular sauna use. At Sweat Tent™ we make it simple to achieve better health daily, and from anywhere, with our home sauna tent and sauna accessories. Portable, powerful, and incredibly convenient, let Sweat Tent™ help you achieve better health and wellness.
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Medical disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before adding sauna bathing to your health and wellness routine.