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.
SAUNA FOR COLD & FLU
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.
CAN YOU SWEAT OUT A COLD & FLU IN THE SAUNA?
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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HOW SAUNA RELIEVES COLD & FLU SYMPTOMS
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.
INCREASES CARDIOVASCULAR ACTIVITY
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.
HOW SAUNA FIGHTS COLD & FLU
BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM
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?
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.
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WHAT IS 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.
CAN YOU SAUNA WITH A FEVER?
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.
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.