What Are The Risks Of Sitting In A Sauna?

Saunas have been around for a very long time — perhaps thousands of years — across different cultures in the world (via WebMD). One of the most popular and well-studied saunas is the Finnish sauna, which utilizes dry heat and can average temperatures around 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. According to Healthline, there are a few tips to know to get the best experience out of a Finnish sauna. Before you enter, it is recommended to drink at least one glass of water and rinse your body off in a shower. Then you may enter the sauna for 10 minutes, exit and rinse off again, then re-enter and this time add water to the sauna rocks to create humidity. Then you may exit and rinse again before entering for the last 10-minute session. It is always important to stay hydrated when using a sauna, so remember to drink water after you get out. 

This relaxing process is thought to have several potential health benefits. For example, saunas may help boost the circulation of blood and even relieve chronic pain (via Healthline). Plus all of the calming effects of the sauna can even improve sleep quality. However, all of these rewards are not without risk. Here's everything you need to know about the risks of sitting in a sauna.

Be careful when sitting in a sauna

According to WebMD, saunas are generally considered to be safe for use. However, there are certain things that can make them riskier. For example, consuming drugs or alcohol before entering a sauna can increase your risk of death. Further, people living with certain health conditions — like chest pain, a recent heart attack, or severe aortic valve stenosis — are advised to not use the sauna. Women who are pregnant, children under age 7, adults over age 65, and people who live with epilepsy are also not recommended to use the sauna. 

You might wonder why saunas can pose such a risk under the right conditions. Healthline notes that dehydration is one of the most common risks when using a sauna. If you feel faint, get a headache, or notice that you are more thirsty than usual, you may be experiencing dehydration. Notably, extreme dehydration can lead to heat stroke, kidney failure, and even coma. 

Additionally, sauna use might also increase men's risk of fertility loss. A 2018 study found that Finnish men who used saunas for 15 minutes two times per week for three months experienced a reversible problem with sperm production.

So, while there are many potential benefits to sauna use, there are also risks.