Does Sauna Help Cure A Cold Or Flu?

treating a cold or flu with sauna

Sauna is great for relieving the symptoms of cold and flu – congestion, muscle aches, and fatigue. It boosts the immune system and makes us feel much better.  Does sauna help get rid of the cold and flu?  Maybe, it’s open to debate.

There is no doubt that sauna heat therapy provides much needed relief to those of us suffering the symptoms of colds and flu.  However, it is unclear if sauna can shorten the duration of these illnesses.


Many people claim saunas cure colds and flu by ‘sweating out the virus’.  While it is possible, the scientific evidence to back up the claims is thin on the ground.  It’s open to debate.

However, there is no doubt that sauna therapy relieves the nasty symptoms of colds and flu, boosts the immune system, makes us feel better, and improves overall health.


A good sweat session in a sauna helps relieve the symptoms of a cold or flu.  As core body temperature rises the brain triggers the sweat glands to begin the sweating process.

This has a cooling effect on the body.  Water and waste products are flushed from the system creating a cleansing effect.  People feel an improvement in their symptoms and mood during this process.

Although sauna helps alleviate the symptoms of cold and flu – it is unlikely it will shorten the duration of the illness.  A cold or flu will run its course and most likely take the same length of time to recover from – regardless of sauna activity.

The internet is awash with claims that a sauna can ‘sweat out’ and cure a cold or flu.  However, there is no solid scientific evidence to support these claims.

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woman resting inside a sauna


There are a number of ways sauna relieves the symptoms of cold and flu and makes us feel better.  Chief amongst these are – improved cardiovascular activity, boosting the immune system, weakening of the virus, system detoxification, and increased drainage due to the effects of sweating.


As body temperature rises cardiovascular activity is stimulated.  Heart rate increases and this results in an increase in blood flow throughout the body.

This means there is a greater supply of vital nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.  This oxygen and nutrient-rich blood helps the body heal, boosts the immune system and combats the infection.


A good sauna is an excellent way to detox the body and flush out harmful toxins.  This helps cleanse the system of harmful chemicals that have accumulated while it has been busy battling the infection.

So, although a sauna may not cure a common cold or flu, it will make you feel a whole lot better.  For more info on sauna detox – see here.


The New York Times has reported that sauna heat sessions improve drainage in people suffering from cold or flu.  This helps alleviate congestion and the debilitating symptoms of the illnesses.  A welcome relief when you are feeling under the weather.


There is a lot more to sauna than just the physical benefits.  A good sauna session is great for relaxation, boosting mood, and generally uplifting someone’s spirits.

This little pick-me-up is just what someone needs when feeling miserable with a cold or flu.  The improved mood felt after a sauna is thanks to increased levels of serotonin circulating through the brain.



Sauna sessions, and particularly infrared sauna, boosts the immune system and increases white blood cell count.

Researchers from Poland discovered white blood cell and monocyte production was increased by regular infrared sauna sessions.


Claims have been made that the intense heat inside a sauna weakens the viruses that cause colds and flu.  Traditional saunas run at temperatures of between 150-190°F and infrared saunas at 110-120°F.

It is believed these high temperatures weaken the virus and hamper its ability to replicate and cause damage.  The cold and flu viruses thrive at much lower temperatures in the region of 90°F.

what is a cold and flu


The common cold is a viral infection that affects the nose and throat.  Although it is usually harmless it can make you feel miserable and typically lasts for between 7 to 10 days.

It is caused by several different viruses and symptoms will appear 1-3 days after the initial infection.  A cold usually begins with a sore throat and develops with symptoms of sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and congestion.

The common cold appears gradually, affects mostly the nose and throat, and will make you feel moderately unwell.  Most people will be able to carry on as normal.  It will not make you as sick as a flu.




Flu, short for influenza, is a highly infectious illness caused by a virus.  It causes a sudden spike in temperature, headache, weakness, and aches and pains.

Healthy people can expect to recover from a flu in 7 days.  But it can cause serious illness and even death in older people and people with underlying health conditions.

It is largely a seasonal illness – appearing most frequently in the winter months and early spring.  People carrying the virus spread it through coughing and sneezing.

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Flu appears quickly and the symptoms set in, in just a few hours.  They are a more serious infection than a cold and affect more than just the throat and nose.

Symptoms of flu include sore throat, muscle aches, blocked or runny nose, cough, and sneezing.  A flu will really wipe you out and make it difficult to carry on as normal.

Does Sauna Help Get Rid Of The Cold And Flu


No, if you have a fever you should not take a sauna.  Doing so could endanger your health and place further stress on your body while it is busy fighting an infection.

A fever is a rise in body temperature and a sign that you have an infection. During this time your body is under strain.  You should rest and avoid taking a sauna.

Normal body temperature is approximately 98.6 F.  A fever occurs when your oral temperature rises above 100 F.  You should rest up and allow your body time to deal with the infection.

If you have a fever you should drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated and wear lightweight clothing. Contact a doctor if your condition deteriorates. And, do not take a sauna.

For more information on Sauna Safety – read here.

frequently asked questions

Is Sauna Good For a Chest Infection?

A sauna can relieve the symptoms of a chest infection and help you feel more comfortable.  However, there is no evidence to suggest it will speed up your recovery.

A chest infection is an infection of the lungs and surrounding airways.  If your illness is mild to moderate a sauna might just help you feel better.  But remember, you should avoid sauna if you are running a fever.

Saunas can ease the symptoms of chest infections by improving drainage, boosting the immune system, increasing cardiovascular activity, and weakening the virus.

Chest infections commonly follow a cold or flu and the main symptoms include a chesty cough, chest pain, and a high temperature.  In most cases, you can expect to recover within 7 to 10 days.

Is Sauna Good for a Sore Throat?

Sore throats are usually the sign of a viral infection.  Symptoms include throat pain, redness in the back of the mouth, and swollen neck glands.

Like with chest infections, colds, and flu there is no hard scientific evidence to say sauna will help you recover more quickly from a sore throat.  Most people will recover in seven days.

Some sore throats are caused by a bacterial infection.  This is known as ‘strep throat’.  Bacterial throat infections can take longer to recover from and make you feel sicker compared to a viral infection.

Does Sauna Kill Viruses?

This is the big question.  It’s right up there with does sauna help get rid of the cold and flu?  And the answer is we simply have no concrete evidence to say it does.  The jury is out.

The World Health Organisation has said that most viruses die off at temperatures above 104 F.  An infrared sauna or traditional sauna will run at temperatures much higher than this.

But a viral infection resides inside the body.  And a sauna will not heat the body to 104 F – as this would be dangerous.  The cold and flu viruses thrive at temperatures just below normal body temperature.

The heat of a sauna is an abrasive and difficult environment for viruses.  While we cannot say with certainty that it will help kill the virus – it just might speed up your recovery.

Can You Sweat Out a Virus?

This question creeps up almost as mush as – Does Sauna Help Get Rid Of The Cold And Flu?

A good sweat session in the sauna will work wonders for your health.  It will improve cardiovascular activity, detoxify the body, cleanse the skin, stimulate the immune system, and relax the mind.

But can you sweat out a virus – it’s unlikely.  Cold and flu viruses reside deep inside the body and not close to the skin.  The sweat released by the body during a sauna is not going to flush out a viral infection.

While you may not ‘sweat out the virus’ – a sauna session will help you feel much better.  It will ease the symptoms of cold and flu and provide some much welcome relief.

In summary – does sauna help get rid of the cold and flu?  Maybe, but the answer is unclear.  Many people claim to have been cured of a cold or flu using sauna.  Clear scientific evidence to back up these claims is yet to emerge.


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How Much Water Should I Drink In A Sauna?

How Much Water Should I Drink In Sauna

You should drink three pints of water over the course of a sauna session.  The best way to hydrate is to begin drinking water before the session begins, continue while in the sauna, and drink more water once you get out.

As a general rule sauna users should drink three pints of water over a sauna session.  The amount of water needed varies from person-to-person and is dependant on the amount of fluid lost due to sweating.

stay hydrated - drink 3 pints of water


The most important thing to remember is to avoid becoming dehydrated.  This happens when more fluids leave the body than enter it and even low levels of dehydration triggers headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.

A number of factors influence how much you sweat while in a sauna.  These include the length of the session, the temperature of the sauna, and individual physiological characteristics – some people just sweat more than others.


Yes, it is important you stay hydrated during a sauna session.  This means you should be sipping water throughout the session to avoid becoming dehydrated.

As your core temperature rises your body will begin to sweat to try and cool down.  Fluids lost as sweat must be replaced to prevent you from becoming dehydrated.

Dehydration is the most common problem encountered by people using saunas.  The condition is particularly serious for young children and older adults.  So make sure you drink plenty of fluids to stay safely hydrated.

lady drinking water


You should drink at least one full glass of water before entering the sauna.  Consider this as part of the three pints you need to drink over the course of the session.

If you have just completed a workout you will need to drink more.  If you plan to enter the sauna after exercising you should drink up to 32 oz of water before you begin your session.

You must be well hydrated before entering the sauna so your body can safely generate sweat.  It is during the sweating process that your body experiences the greatest health benefits of a sauna session.





The three-pint rule is a good guideline and will be the best amount for most people.  There are several factors that could mean you need to drink some extra water.


Most traditional saunas run at temperatures of 150-190°F, while  infrared saunas run at between 110-120°F.  The hotter the sauna, the more you are going to sweat.

Therefore if the temperatures are at the higher end of these scales you need to drink more water.


Longer sessions mean more sweating.  If you are spending long periods of time in the sauna you are going to have to drink more water.

Most sessions last somewhere between 10-30 minutes.  If you are closer to the 30-minute end, then you should get more fluids on board.


Some people just sweat more than others.  If you are one of these people you will lose more fluids during a sauna session compared to the average person.

If  you are in this group – drink more water.  You can check your hydration levels by assessing the color of your urine – see below.


Were you properly hydrated before you entered the sauna?  If you were not properly hydrated, to begin with, then you will need to take on some extra fluids.

inside a sauna woman's legs


Drinking water is the best and easiest way to rehydrate after a good sauna session.  It’s cheap, effective, contains zero calories, and gets to work quickly.

Other options include skimmed milk, rehydration solutions, fruit juice, and tea.  A recent study by St. Andrews University in Scotland found that skimmed milk and rehydration solutions are great alternatives.

When we sweat we lose nutrients as well as water.  In particular, we excrete high levels of sodium during a sauna session.

However, this sodium is easily replaced as part of a balanced diet and rarely requires any specialist rehydration solution.

Although fluids that contain nutrients such as sodium, sugar, and electrolytes can speed up the recovery process, water is the best option for replacing the fluid lost in a sauna. Just remember to drink water in sauna.


Keep drinking fluids.  You shouldn’t stop drinking water when you step out of the sauna.  You need to continue taking on fluids to make sure you stay hydrated.

All fluids lost during a sweat session need to be replaced and this means you need to continue to hydrate after stepping out of the sauna.

In general, you should aim to drink a pint of water after your sauna session.  But if you continue to feel thirsty, or have generated a lot of sweat, you should keep hydrating until you feel fully recovered.

You should avoid alcohol before and after a sauna.  Alcohol is a diuretic – meaning it removes fluids from your body.

This can cause dehydration problems when combined with a sauna.  Other diuretic drinks include coffee and tea – and they should be avoided while trying to hydrate.

Check out our guide to the Health Benefits of Sauna – Click Here.


The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water before you feel thirsty.  Once you begin to feel thirsty your body is already experiencing dehydration.  Even mild levels of dehydration cause tiredness and loss of energy.

Our bodies are made up of about 70% water and they need to stay well hydrated to survive.  Every cell in the body needs water to function as it is designed to do.

Dehydration happens when you don’t have enough water in your body for it to function properly.

A simple way to check if you are dehydrated is to look at the color of your urine.  If it is clear with no color in it you are fine.

A hint of yellow means you are a little dehydrated and should drink some water.  And, if it’s a darker shade of yellow you are more seriously dehydrated!

Discover your Dream Home Sauna today!  Check out our guides to affordable and convenient home sauna – the best infrared sauna blankets, infrared heating mats, and portable steam saunas.


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