Is It Okay to Sauna When Sick?

Saunas are a popular way to relax and unwind, providing a range of health benefits such as reducing stress and improving circulation. However, when feeling under the weather, many people wonder if it is still safe to use a sauna. The answer to this question depends on the type of illness and the severity of symptoms. 

For minor illnesses such as a common cold or mild flu, it is generally safe to use a sauna. In fact, some people find that the heat and steam can help to alleviate symptoms such as congestion and coughing. However, it is important to stay hydrated and listen to your body. If you start to feel dizzy or nauseous, it may be time to step out of the sauna and take a break.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing more severe symptoms such as a high fever or chest congestion, it is best to avoid using a sauna altogether. The heat can cause your body temperature to rise even further, putting additional strain on your immune system. In these cases, it is important to rest and allow your body to recover naturally.

sauna when sick

Health Considerations When Sick

When considering using a sauna while sick, there are several health considerations to keep in mind. This section will explore common illnesses and sauna use, risks of sauna use while sick, and potential benefits for symptom relief.

Common Illnesses and Sauna Use

While sauna use may provide some health benefits, it is important to consider the specific illness one is experiencing before using a sauna. For example, if someone is experiencing a fever, it is not recommended to use a sauna as it may lead to overheating and dehydration. Similarly, those experiencing respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis or pneumonia should avoid sauna use as the heat and steam may worsen symptoms.

Risks of Sauna Use While Sick

Sauna use while sick can pose several risks. Dehydration is a common risk, as the heat and steam can cause excessive sweating and fluid loss. Dizziness and changes in blood pressure and heart rate are also possible risks, particularly for those with heart conditions. It is important to listen to one's body and discontinue sauna use if any discomfort or adverse symptoms occur.

Potential Benefits for Symptom Relief

While sauna use may not be appropriate for all illnesses, it may provide some symptom relief for certain conditions. For example, sauna use has been shown to improve muscle pain and relaxation, which may be beneficial for those experiencing sore muscles or stress. Additionally, sauna use may help alleviate congestion and cough associated with the common cold or flu.

Overall, it is important to consider individual health factors and consult with a healthcare provider before using a sauna while sick. While there may be potential benefits for certain symptoms, the risks and potential adverse effects should also be taken into account. Hydration and listening to one's body are key considerations for safe sauna use while sick.

woman in a sauna

Safety Precautions and Recommendations

When considering sauna use while sick, it is important to take certain safety precautions and recommendations into account. These include:

Hydration and Sauna Use

It is crucial to stay hydrated while using a sauna, especially when sick. The high temperatures can cause excessive sweating, leading to dehydration. It is recommended to drink plenty of water before, during, and after a sauna session to prevent dehydration. It is also important to avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate the body further.

Consulting a Doctor

Before using a sauna while sick, it is important to consult a doctor. Certain medical conditions and medications can be affected by high temperatures, and sauna use may not be recommended. It is also important to seek medical treatment if symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop during or after a sauna session.

Sauna Session Duration and Frequency

When sick, it is recommended to limit sauna sessions to no more than 10-15 minutes at a time. It is also important to wait at least 30 minutes between sessions to allow the body to cool down and prevent overheating. Sauna use should be avoided if a fever is present, as the high temperatures can worsen the fever and potentially lead to heatstroke.

By following these safety precautions and recommendations, individuals can enjoy the benefits of sauna use while minimizing the risks associated with using a sauna while sick.

Special Considerations

When it comes to sauna use, there are certain special considerations that should be taken into account, particularly when a person is sick or has a chronic medical condition. The following subsections outline some of these considerations.

Sauna Use and Chronic Conditions

Individuals with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or respiratory infections, should consult with their doctor before using a sauna. Sauna use can affect blood pressure, heart rate, and lung function, and may exacerbate certain medical conditions.

Sauna Use During Pregnancy

Pregnant women should avoid using saunas, particularly during the first trimester. Sauna use can raise body temperature, which can be harmful to the developing fetus. Pregnant women should also avoid using hot tubs and steam rooms.

Sauna Use and Medication Interactions

Some medications can interact with sauna use and may cause adverse effects. For example, medications that affect blood pressure, such as beta blockers or diuretics, may interact with the heat and humidity of a sauna, causing dizziness or fainting. Individuals taking medications should consult with their doctor before using a sauna.

It is important to note that sauna use does not "detox" the body, despite popular belief. While sweating can help eliminate some toxins, the liver and kidneys are the primary organs responsible for detoxification. Additionally, sauna use does not boost the immune system or provide any significant benefits for allergies or respiratory conditions.

Overall, sauna use can be safe for healthy individuals when used properly and in moderation. However, special considerations should be taken for those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and individuals taking medications.

man in a sauna

Alternatives to Sauna When Sick

When feeling under the weather, many people turn to saunas as a way to sweat out their cold or congestion. However, saunas may not be the best option for everyone. Here are some alternative methods that can help with detoxification and immune function.

Steam Therapy at Home 

Steam therapy is a great alternative to sauna when sick. It can help with inflammation and congestion in the chest, as well as a runny or stuffy nose. One can create a steam room at home by running hot water in the shower and closing the bathroom door. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil can enhance the experience and help with breathing. Alternatively, one can use a steam inhaler or a facial steamer to target specific areas.

Other Detoxification Methods

There are other ways to detoxify the body besides saunas. Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal tea, or bone broth, can help flush out toxins and boost the immune system. Consuming nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, can also aid in detoxification. Additionally, taking a warm bath with Himalayan salt can help relax the muscles and promote detoxification.

Gentle Workout for Immune Boost

While intense exercise may not be recommended when sick, gentle workouts can help boost the immune system. Yoga, stretching, or light cardio can help increase circulation and promote lymphatic drainage. This can help white blood cells circulate more efficiently and fight off common colds. However, it is important to listen to the body and not push too hard when feeling ill.

Overall, there are many alternatives to sauna when sick that can help with detoxifying the body and boosting the immune system. By incorporating steam therapy, other detoxification methods, and gentle workouts, one can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.


In conclusion, when it comes to the question of whether it is okay to sauna when sick, the answer is not straightforward. While saunas have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including boosting the immune system, they also come with some risks.

For individuals who are experiencing mild symptoms, such as a runny nose or a slight cough, saunas may be safe to use. However, for those who are experiencing more severe symptoms, such as a high fever or difficulty breathing, it is best to avoid the sauna altogether.

It is important to keep in mind that saunas are not a cure for illness and should not be relied upon as a sole means of treatment. It is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before using a sauna, especially when sick.

Overall, while saunas can be a relaxing and beneficial experience, it is important to prioritize one's health and safety above all else.

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