When is it a good idea to limit sauna use? Never! We wish that was the answer, but alas, there are times when you will need to limit your time in the sauna. For the sake of your safety and your health, we've listed below some situations that may require limited sauna time. As always, it is best to consult your doctor.
Pregnancy - According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), a body temperature of 101º F and above are dangerous during pregnancy (CAUTION: linked article contains graphic images). Studies have shown an increased risk of birth defects in babies of women who had elevated body temperatures during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that becoming overheated in a sauna is not recommended during pregnancy. Before choosing to use a sauna during pregnancy, it is best to seek the advice of your health care provider.
Heart Conditions – If you have unstable angina pectoris, poorly controlled blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, advanced heart failure, recent myocardial infarction, and severe aortic stenosis, you should speak with your doctor before using a sauna. Blood vessels dilate when exposed to heat and this can cause blood pressure to fall--a highly dangerous situation for those with heart conditions. Saunas can sometimes help to improve some conditions when used properly, but always work with a doctor prior to embarking on regular sauna use.
Certain Medications - There are a number of medications that can affect the body’s normal response to heat either by inhibiting sweating or by otherwise interfering with normal physiology. For example, some medications used for psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia or the use of stimulant medications for conditions like ADD or excessive sleeping also increase the health risks from heat exposure. If you are on any of these medications, always read the informational sheets provided by your pharmacist concerning your specific medications warnings and side effects, and please speak with your doctor before sauna use.
Alcohol or Drug Use - If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, do not use a sauna as the effects on your cardiovascular system can be increased beyond safe levels. An intoxicated person may not perceive how much time has passed in the heat, or may not notice the early symptoms of over-heating, such as feeling light-headed or nauseated. There is also the risk of falling asleep, which could be fatal in a sauna.
Too Young - Until puberty, kids can’t regulate their body temperature through sweat production as efficiently as adults can. This means that children under twelve or so are more vulnerable to the heat effects of the sauna. For this and other reasons, kids should not follow the same guidelines of sauna use as their parents. They should limit their time and make sure they drink plenty of water after they leave.
In order to make sauna use a safe and relaxing experience, remember to keep your sauna temperature to no higher than 194°F (The maximum allowed sauna temperature in Canada and the United States is 194°F) and be sure to accurately monitor the temperature and lower it as needed. Also, limit your stay to no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. As you are exiting, cool down gradually after use and avoid going rapidly from a hot to a cold environment.
You should also try to drink 2 to 4 glasses of cool water after each session to re-hydrate your body. Also, never take a sauna session if you are ill, and if you find yourself feeling unwell while in a sauna, head for the door.
Here at Saunasandstuff.com, we want every sauna experience to be safe, fun, and healthy. Take all necessary safety precautions and Happy Sweating!
*Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, CH. 5.