Infrared saunas are one of the most popular wellness trends nowadays due to the amazing health benefits they provide. These thermal devices help detoxify your body, relieve pain, promote healing, boost the immune system, and reduce stress, among others.
But while an infrared sauna is generally safe for everyone, there are minimal risks associated with it – especially when used improperly.
In this blog post, we’ll uncover the infrared sauna dangers and precautionary tips everyone must know to prevent them from happening.
What Happens To Your Body During An Infrared Sauna Experience?
When you step into an infrared sauna, the heat starts to penetrate, resulting in an increased skin temperature, penetrating deeper to heat up your core body temperature.
Similar to traditional saunas, infrared saunas use heat to produce sweating as one would after an intense exercise.
Excessive sweating is your body’s way of reacting in order to cool down or keep your core temperature steady.
This detoxification process then carries toxins and other impurities out of your body. It can also release heavy metals like lead and mercury, which are known to be highly toxic.
Infrared Sauna Dangers: Risks And Side Effects Of A Sauna Session
As mentioned, infrared saunas are generally considered safe with no side effects. However, just like any therapy used improperly or against professional advice, it can pose possible dangers and harms, such as the following:
During an infrared sauna session, your body loses water and electrolytes due to intense sweating.
This can be harmful to someone who’s not properly hydrated before going into an infrared sauna session.
Remember that the longer you stay in a sauna, the more fluids you will have to replace immediately.
Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, and lightheadedness. In severe cases, it can lead to seizures or even death.
Being exposed to infrared heat for extended periods of time can bring a mild feeling of discomfort. Especially if you’re a first-time sauna user, your body might not be used to the elevated temperature.
This is another common side effect of regular infrared sauna use. Dizziness or lightheadedness may go away after a while, but if it persists or if you feel worse using a sauna, seek medical attention immediately.
Abnormal Blood Pressure Levels
While studies claim that infrared saunas help normalize blood pressure levels, overexposure may result in complications – your blood pressure could go either too high or too low. Symptoms you may experience include dizziness, faintness, nausea, or an irregular heartbeat.
If you have high blood pressure along with other medical conditions like heart disease, make sure to monitor your condition and consult with a doctor before use.
If you are not careful, excessive infrared sauna use can cause burns. This can likely happen if you’re sitting too close to the heating elements or sauna bathing for longer than the recommended duration.
Prolonged infrared sauna use may increase your risk of developing skin issues or infections. Avoid using a sauna that causes you to develop rashes, breakouts, blisters, and other irritations.
This can be a more extreme effect of heat discomfort if it is not dealt with or relieved right away. It occurs when your body absorbs too much heat.
If you are not used to infrared saunas heat, or if you overdo it, your body can’t release the heat quickly enough and you may suffer from a heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of a heat stroke include nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. In severe cases, heatstroke can be fatal. It can cause permanent damage if not treated immediately.
While uncommon, people have experienced heart attacks while using far infrared saunas at high temperatures and with longer exposure times.
Just like heat stroke, a heart attack happens because the body can’t release the heat quickly enough.
Symptoms of heart attacks include chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
Some experts claim that electromagnetic radiation may increase your risk of skin cancer.
Though it is important to note that more studies need to be conducted to support this claim.
The long-term effects of infrared exposure are not yet known, so it’s best to play it safe and avoid any potential risks.
The radiation from infrared saunas can damage your eyes, so it is recommended to wear sunglasses when using one.
Sunglasses will protect your eyes from infrared radiation as well as the bright light from the sauna. Make sure they have 100% ultraviolet light protection.
Eye damage may not be noticeable until it’s too late, so it’s important to take precautions. If you experience any symptoms of eye damage after using a sauna, consult an optometrist immediately.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If your infrared sauna is not properly ventilated, you may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Contraindications To Using Infrared Saunas
If you have any of the following conditions or any other serious health concerns, make sure to consult your doctor first before infrared exposure.
You might be prone to the infrared sauna dangers mentioned, especially if you’re using far infrared saunas.
- Pregnancy (regular dry sauna bathing or infrared sauna exposure may not be advisable for expectant mothers as they may be more susceptible to overheating. The elevated core body temperature may reach a level unsafe for the baby.
- Heart disease
- High or low blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Health conditions that require taking medications such as diuretics, other blood pressure-lowering drugs, or medications that can cause dizziness
Common Causes Of Infrared Sauna Dangers
There are a number of ways that infrared saunas can cause harm. Here are the things you should watch out for:
If you do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions, infrared saunas can be dangerous. Make sure you read and understand all safety guidelines before using an infrared sauna.
If you use an infrared sauna at a high temperature for too long or position yourself near the heating elements, you can experience dangerous side effects.
Prolonged Sauna Use
If you spend too much time in the infrared sauna, it can cause extreme heatstroke. Make sure to use the device for a reasonable amount of time and follow all manufacturer guidelines.
If the area in which your infrared sauna is located is unsafe- like if it is wet or there are electrical cords around- it can increase your risk of injury. Moreover, insufficient airflow can hamper the operation of the heater.
Many manufacturers do not put proper safety measures in place to ensure the devices they make will be safe and reliable when used as intended. This causes problems like overheating, electrical issues, and other defects which can bring possible dangers.
The Types Of Infrared Light And Their Risk Levels
Low-energy infrared A or a near-infrared sauna is the safest type of infrared light. It has been used for years in medical and therapeutic settings without any known risks.
High-energy infrared B and C or far-infrared sauna units can be harmful if you’re exposed to them for too long. Far infrared saunas have wavelength ranges that are potentially harmful to the body. Make sure you understand the risks before using one.
Among the side effects mentioned, far infrared sauna bathing has been linked to skin cancer and eye damage.
Which Is More Harmful: Traditional Sauna Or Infrared Sauna?
There is no definitive answer to this question. Some experts say that infrared saunas are more harmful because they emit electromagnetic radiation, while others maintain that traditional saunas’ heat can be more dangerous.
Both infrared saunas and traditional saunas have their own risks and benefits.
Other Infrared Sauna Side Effects That Are Considered Normal
It is essential to be aware of other side effects that are completely natural. Otherwise, you might find them alarming when all you need to do is to give your body time to recuperate. Most of these side effects are likely to be experienced by firs-time sauna users.
One of the detox side effects is stomach ache. This may happen due to the detoxification process in your urinary system wherein your kidneys are filtering out toxins.
Another is manifesting flu-like symptoms such as headache, fatigue, paleness, etc. This is your body’s way of reacting to the new type of heat as it works to fight off infections.
Just like after having a massage session, some may also experience muscle soreness post-infrared sauna therapy. The same explanation applies: this is only your body’s way of telling you that it is releasing toxins out of your muscles and organ systems.
If ever you experience these symptoms during or after infrared light therapy sessions, don’t panic! There’s nothing to worry about because that only means that the therapy is working. You’ll feel so much better once you have completely recovered.
Must-Know Tips To Use Infrared Saunas Safely
The key to unlocking the best infrared sauna experience and reaping the benefits that come with it is to use it properly.
Here’s a general rundown of the safety precautions you can take to avoid any potential hazard:
• Make sure the area is well-ventilated. Not only can it create a safer environment, but will enhance your experience as well by giving optimum comfort.
• Check the temperature before entering. The appropriate temperate depends on your preference but the advised heat level for traditional saunas is 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit and 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit for infrared saunas.
• Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your session to stay hydrated. This is a very important step to avoid dehydration, which is a common side effect.
• Stay within your comfortable temperature range. Always listen to your body and don’t coerce your body to tolerate temperature levels higher than you can handle.
• As mentioned, avoid sitting too close to the heating elements. It will make you prone to heatstroke and other overheat-related risks.
• Take breaks often. Whenever you feel uncomfortable, step out of the sauna first and rehydrate.
• Use a timer to make sure you do not stay longer than recommended by the manufacturer or in excess of 15 minutes at high temperatures.
• If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, stop using the sauna immediately and drink some water.
• Avoid consuming alcohol before your infrared sauna session.
• Do not use the sauna if you feel sick.
• Consult with a doctor before using infrared saunas if you’re unsure whether or not heat therapy is safe for you.
• Make sure your infrared sauna is properly maintained and cleaned regularly. Any damage should be repaired immediately to avoid future dangers.
By following these tips for using an infrared sauna safely, you can enjoy all the potential health benefits infrared saunas provide without putting your health at risk.
Do Risks Of Infrared Sauna Overcomes Benefits?
Infrared saunas can be a great way to relax, rejuvenate, and help with chronic health problems. But it’s important to be aware of the dangers of infrared saunas, especially when using a far infrared sauna.
Infrared sauna dangers include potential skin burns, eye damage due to high heat levels, potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning if the air vents are blocked or unplugged, and even death if you have an underlying medical condition that makes you more susceptible to heat-related illnesses like heart disease or epilepsy.
Stay within your comfortable temperature range, drink plenty of fluids, and take breaks often to avoid any health complications. If you have any concerns, consult your doctor before using an infrared sauna or sauna bathing in general.
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