What Are the Risks of Using a Sauna?


There are three main types of saunas: infrared lamps, far infrared and conventional saunas. Most sauna users are familiar with conventional saunas made from wood. Water is splashed over smoldering rocks to generate steam in a heat-controlled environment. Within this controlled environment, there are some potential risks from using a sauna. Understanding these risks enables users to have a safe and positive sauna experience.

Risk of Dehydration

  • Dehydration is a significant risk factor of sauna use. Sweat generates from the body during sauna use, and the body loses water and fluids. Never enter a sauna with alcohol in the bloodstream, warns the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medicine. Dehydration occurs more rapidly with alcohol in the body than without it. Additionally, alcohol-impaired individuals may not use good judgment in the length of time they stay in the sauna.

Hypovolemic Shock

  • Hypovolemic shock is a fast and drastic drop in blood pressure levels. One of the causes of this condition is dehydration. Becoming dehydrated in a sauna puts users at risk for hypovolemic shock. Immediate medial treatment is required in cases of hypovolemic shock. Untreated, extreme cases of hypovolemic shock can be fatal, warns the Mayo Clinic.

Fungal Infections

  • Human fungal infections vary in severity and location on the body. Fungal infections result from coming in contact with fungus spores, advises Janssen Pharmaceutica. The heat, wood and moisture in sauna forms the perfect environment for fungus to thrive. Utilize protective items, such as shower shoes, as a preventative measure during sauna use.

Shortness of Breath

  • Individuals not used to high temperatures may experience shortness of breath at the beginning of their sauna session. Use the sauna for short durations as a beginner and build up usage time gradually. People with adrenal suppression do not respond to heat and should never use saunas, advises the Creighton University School of Medicine.

Silicone Implant Complications

  • Some saunas reach high enough temperatures to cause silicone implant complications. The risks associated with using saunas with silicone implants include melting of the implants. Creighton University School of Medicine warns anyone with silicone implants to stay out of saunas.

Bleeding Problems

  • Increased bleeding is another risk with sauna use, warns Creighton University School of Medicine. Women with menstrual complications and heavy bleeding should avoid use of saunas. Patients with hemophilia increase bleeding risks with sauna use.

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  • Photo Credit in der sauna image by LVDESIGN from Fotolia.com
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