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Using an Infrared Sauna When Sick: Benefits and Precautions

Should you turn to an infrared sauna when sick? The gentle heat may improve circulation and provide comfort for some, though it's not a cure-all. Infrared saunas, with their lower temperatures, are seen as a more tolerable option for those feeling under the weather, potentially aiding relaxation and recovery.

However, there is no definitive scientific evidence confirming their efficacy in treating illnesses. Hydration and moderation are crucial—start with short sessions and monitor your body's reaction. Consult with a healthcare provider before using an infrared sauna during illness. For safety tips and best practices, continue reading.

Understanding Infrared Saunas

In exploring the use of infrared saunas, especially when you're not feeling well, it's crucial to comprehend how they differ from traditional saunas and the specific ways they apply heat to the body.

Different Types of Saunas

Infrared saunas and traditional saunas both aim to promote relaxation and sweat production. However, they differ significantly in how they produce heat.

  • Traditional Saunas: These saunas use a heat source like wood, gas, or electricity to warm the air around you, which in turn heats your body primarily through convection and conduction. The typical temperature range is between 150°F and 195°F.
  • Infrared Saunas: Instead of heating the air, these utilize infrared light to create heat, which is absorbed directly by your skin. This direct heating technique allows for lower ambient temperatures, generally around 120°F to 140°F, while still promoting a deep sweat.

Infrared Light and Heat

Infrared saunas employ a specific spectrum of light that generates heat without the need for high ambient temperatures.

There are two main types of infrared saunas, categorized by the light's wavelength:

  • Far-Infrared Saunas: These focus on longer infrared wavelengths that are absorbed by the skin's surface and can potentially provide deeper tissue warmth.
  • Near-Infrared Saunas: These use shorter wavelengths that are meant to penetrate the skin less deeply but may have effects on cell health and overall well-being.

Infrared heat is recognized for its ability to increase circulation and stimulate sweat glands, which is said to facilitate detoxification. The heat generated also induces a state similar to a mild fever, which is the body's natural mechanism to strengthen and accelerate its immune response.

Using Infrared Sauna When Sick

When considering using an infrared sauna while sick, it's important to understand how it may affect common illnesses such as the cold and flu, and what benefits or precautions to consider regarding fever, muscle aches, and respiratory congestion.

The Common Cold and Flu

Use in Cold and Flu: Mild to moderate use of an infrared sauna can potentially alleviate symptoms related to the common cold and flu. The gentle heat helps improve circulation and may boost your immune response, which is crucial in fighting off viral infections.

  • Pros:
    • May reduce the duration of a cold
    • Can aid in relaxing muscle tension
  • Cons:
    • Should avoid with high fever
    • Overuse can lead to dehydration

Fever and Infrared Sauna

Addressing Fever: It's recommended to avoid infrared sauna use during a high fever. Introducing additional heat to the body can raise internal temperatures further, potentially causing thermal stress or heatstroke.

  • Guidelines for Fever:
    • If your temperature is above 100.4°F (38°C), it's best to steer clear of the sauna
    • Monitor your body's response if using the sauna with a mild fever

Alleviating Muscle Aches and Joint Pain

Relief for Aches: The warmth from an infrared sauna can permeate deep into muscle tissue and joints, providing soothing relief from aches commonly associated with illnesses.

  • Benefits:
    • Reduces inflammation
    • Eases discomfort from muscle tension and joint pain

Respiratory Relief and Congestion

Respiratory Benefits: Conditions like a sore throat and cough can improve with infrared sauna use due to its ability to help clear congestion.

  • How it Helps:
    • Promotes sinus drainage
    • Helps loosen mucus in the airways

Please consult your healthcare provider before using an infrared sauna when feeling sick, especially if you have any chronic health conditions or a high fever.

Health Benefits of Sauna Use

Saunas, especially infrared saunas, offer various health benefits that might intrigue you, from detoxification to supporting your immune system. These benefits can be particularly appealing when you're feeling under the weather.

Detoxification Through Sweating

In an infrared sauna, your body's core temperature increases, leading to perspiration. This sweating can help detoxify your body by expelling contaminants through the skin, which is one of your largest organs.

Improved Blood Flow and Circulation

The heat from an infrared sauna causes blood vessels to dilate, enhancing circulation. This improvement in blood flow helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues more efficiently, which may support your body's natural healing processes.

Stress Reduction and Relaxation

Infrared sauna sessions are associated with reducing stress levels. The warmth encourages deep relaxation, potentially increasing the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, like serotonin, helping you feel more relaxed and at peace.

Support for the Immune System

Regular sauna use might bolster your immune system. By mimicking a mild fever, which is your body's defense against illness, sauna sessions can stimulate an immune response, potentially improving your immune function and making you more resilient to viruses.

Practical Considerations When Using an Infrared Sauna

When opting to use an infrared sauna while sick, it's essential to prioritize your safety and health through proper hydration, appropriate temperature settings, and an understanding of how your health conditions might interact with sauna use.

Hydration and Sauna Safety

  • Hydration: Ensure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your sauna session. Sweating can lead to dehydration, and maintaining body fluids is crucial.
  • Before Sauna: Drink at least one glass of water.
  • During Sauna: Sip water as needed.
  • After Sauna: Replenish fluids by drinking water or an electrolyte-replenishing beverage.

Temperature Settings and Duration

  • Temperature Setting: Begin with a lower temperature range of 120°F to 140°F to acclimate your body and minimize discomfort.
  • Starting: Begin at 110 degrees for short sessions (5-10 minutes).
  • Adjusting: Gradually increase as tolerated, without exceeding 140°F.

Sauna and Other Health Conditions

  • Pre-existing Conditions: Consult a physician if you have a medical condition like high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney disease before using an infrared sauna.
  • Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, it is generally advised to avoid sauna use unless directed otherwise by a healthcare provider.

Additional Tips and Best Practices

When using an infrared sauna while sick, it is crucial to prioritize your comfort and health. Keeping these best practices in mind will help maximize the therapeutic benefits and ensure your safety.

What to Bring to a Sauna Session

  • Towel: A towel is essential for comfort and hygiene. Use it to sit on and to wipe away sweat.
  • Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is key to avoiding dehydration, especially when your body is combating illness. Bring a water bottle to ensure you replenish fluids lost through sweating.

Post-Sauna Care

  • Rest: After your session, allow your body time to rest and recover. This helps to prevent overexertion and supports your immune system.
  • Hydration: Continue to drink water post-sauna to fully rehydrate yourself. Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and supporting white blood cell function.


When considering an infrared sauna when sick, it's essential to recognize that while the milder temperatures might provide a comforting experience, they do not guarantee a cure. The reported benefits, such as enhanced circulation and reduced muscle tension, can appeal to those seeking non-pharmaceutical relief from common cold and flu symptoms.

It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before using an infrared sauna when sick, and if you choose to proceed, start with short sessions at lower temperatures while ensuring adequate hydration. Remember that any form of sauna use should be thought of as a complementary therapy, not a replacement for medical treatment, and it's vital to listen to your body's signals and prioritize safety above all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an infrared sauna good for a common cold?

An infrared sauna can provide a warm environment that some people find comforting when they have a common cold. The heat may help to open nasal passages and improve circulation, which could potentially aid in symptom relief. However, it is not a cure for the common cold and should be used in conjunction with other treatments.

Does infrared sauna help with chest congestion?

The heat from an infrared sauna may assist in loosening chest congestion by promoting mucus thinning and sinus drainage, which can relieve some discomfort associated with chest congestion. However, it's important to note that infrared sauna is not a substitute for medical treatment of respiratory conditions.

Do infrared saunas really detoxify your body?

The concept of "detoxification" by infrared saunas is often debated. While sweating can help eliminate some toxins through the skin, major detoxification processes are primarily carried out by the liver and kidneys. Infrared saunas may support these organs indirectly through relaxation and improved circulation, but they do not directly detoxify the body.

Is it OK to infrared sauna every day?

While many people can safely enjoy infrared saunas daily, individual tolerance and medical conditions must be considered. It's important to stay hydrated and listen to your body's response to the heat. If you experience any discomfort or have pre-existing health concerns, consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

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