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Are Saunas Good for Colds? Here’s What Science Says
Ah, the common cold. It's the pesky, sniffling, sneezing menace we all dread. But could a visit to the sauna be the secret weapon to help ward off this nagging nuisance? Let's dive into the steamy world of saunas and their potential benefits for colds. Buckle up, it's about to get hot in here!
To Sauna or Not to Sauna: The Cold Conundrum
The Common Cold: A Quick Refresher
First things first, let's familiarize ourselves with our enemy. According to the CDC¹, the common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, with symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. The culprit behind these woes? The rhinovirus. Cold weather can contribute to the spread of the rhinovirus, as a study² suggests that a decrease in temperature and humidity might increase the risk of infection.
The Sauna Effect: Sweating It Out
Now, let's turn up the heat and talk saunas. A systematic review³ found that regular dry sauna bathing may offer various health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular function and reduced stress. But can it also help combat the common cold?
An earlier study⁴ discovered that those who indulged in regular sauna sessions experienced fewer colds than those who didn't. The heat from saunas causes the body to sweat, which is a natural cooling mechanism⁵. When you're fighting off a cold, sweating may help alleviate some symptoms⁶. Additionally, the warm and humid air⁷ in saunas may improve nasal patency and relieve nasal congestion.
A Grain of Salt: Dispelling the Myths
While the evidence seems promising, it's essential to take it with a grain of salt. Saunas are no magic bullet, and they won't "cure" your cold. Some common cold myths⁸ perpetuate the idea that "sweating out" the virus is possible, but it's just not that simple. Ultimately, the body needs time and proper care to recover from a cold.
Sauna Smarts: Tips and Tricks for Cold Relief
When to Hit the Sauna
Considering the potential benefits, it might be tempting to hop into a sauna at the first sniffle. However, use caution if you're running a fever, as it may not be the best time to raise your body temperature further⁹. Always listen to your body and consult a healthcare professional if you're unsure.
Sauna Alternatives: Steamy Solutions
If you don't have access to a sauna, don't sweat it! Heated, humidified air has been shown to provide short-term relief¹⁰ for some cold symptoms, such as congestion. Try taking a hot shower, using a humidifier, or inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water for a similar effect.
Additional Cold Remedies
A sauna session can be a helpful addition to your cold-fighting arsenal, but it's crucial to incorporate other remedies as well. The Mayo Clinic¹¹ suggests a combination of rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications to help alleviate cold symptoms. Remember, no single remedy is a cure-all for the common cold.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can saunas cure the common cold? No, saunas cannot cure the common cold. While they may provide some relief from cold symptoms, they are not a cure. The body needs time and proper care to recover from a cold.
Is it safe to use a sauna if I have a fever? It is best to exercise caution if you have a fever. Raising your body temperature further may not be ideal. Consult a healthcare professional if you are unsure about using a sauna during a fever.
What are some alternatives to using a sauna for cold relief? Heated, humidified air can provide short-term relief for some cold symptoms. Consider taking a hot shower, using a humidifier, or inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water as alternatives to using a sauna.
What other remedies can help alleviate cold symptoms? Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications are some additional remedies that can help alleviate cold symptoms. It's important to remember that no single remedy is a cure-all for the common cold.
Conclusion: A Steamy Support, Not a Cure
While saunas might not be the magic bullet for curing the common cold, they can provide some relief from cold symptoms. As long as you use caution and listen to your body, a sauna session can be a beneficial addition to your cold-fighting toolkit. Just remember, it takes time, rest, and proper care for your body to recover from a cold. So, the next time you're feeling under the weather, why not consider stepping into a steamy sauna for some soothing relief?
- CDC: Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others
- Ikäheimo, Tiina M et al. “A Decrease in Temperature and Humidity Precedes Human Rhinovirus Infections in a Cold Climate.” Viruses vol. 8,9 244. 2 Sep. 2016, doi:10.3390/v8090244
- Hussain, Joy, and Marc Cohen. “Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM vol. 2018 1857413. 24 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/1857413
- Ernst, E et al. “Regular sauna bathing and the incidence of common colds.” Annals of medicine vol. 22,4 (1990): 225-7. doi:10.3109/07853899009148930
- Medline Plus: Sweating
- Women’s Health: This Is Why Sweating Makes You Feel A Little Better When You Have A Cold
- Ophir D. and Elad Y. Effects of steam inhalation on nasal patency and nasal symptoms in patients with the common cold
- Myths about the Common Cold
- Mayoclinic: Fever
- Heated, humidified air for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD001728. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001728
- Cold remedies: What works, what doesn't, what can't hurt