Are Saunas Dangerous?

Using the sauna at your local gym, health center, or spa is definitely a great way to lose weight and detoxify the body for better health. There's no disputing that it can be very beneficial for some people, depending on who they are and what they are trying to achieve by using one. Saunas can definitely be good for you, but if you do decide to use a sauna, you should be aware of some of the possible dangers involved if you don't take precautions. In general, most saunas are safe to use and accidents or deaths associated with them are very rare, whether people are using them for weight loss or detox. But there have been a few notable deaths attributed to saunas when people weren't very careful and didn't take the proper safety measures.

For example, in October of 2009, three people died and over 20 people were taken to the hospital after many suffered health problems such as heat exhaustion after they spent time in a large tent which served as a makeshift sauna. This all occured at a spiritual retreat in Sedona, Arizona, when a prominent spiritual speaker and guru named James Arthur Ray held a 5-day outdoor event there. If there had been more safety procedures in place, and if the people had been instructed to follow a few safety rules when it comes to saunas, the incident probably would not have occured. So if you're thinking about shedding some pounds or cleansing your system, and are considering using a sauna to do this, here's a few safety tips you should take to heart to ensure you stay safe in that heat box.

Stay Hydrated
Before you go into a sauna room, you should make sure you drink lots of fluids so you remain hydrated. It may even be a good idea to bring a bottle of water in there with you. Because saunas cause a person to sweat a lot, whether infrared saunas or traditional ones using heated air or steam, the human body will lose lots of fluids with all the sweating. You need to make sure you're properly hydrated and replenished so that you don't suffer from a heat stroke, exhaustion, or even dehydration. It's best to begin drinking plenty of water at least 1 hour before you start, and throwing in a little gatorade (such as a half a bottle, in addition to the water) will probably do your body good as well since it's packed with electrolytes.

Don't Stay Long
Try not to stay in a sauna for more than 15 minutes at a time. If you need to use it for longer periods, you should take 20-30 minute breaks every 15 minutes and make sure you hydrate yourself during these periods and allow your body to cool down. Heat stress from staying heated too long can lead to exhaustion and your body can end up failing on you when it can't cool itself down quick enough. Every year, thousands of people die in the desert, and this is one of the main reasons why. A sauna is not much different to your body than being in the desert, in fact, it may even be more intense then some of the hottest temperatures experienced in the desert. You should also make sure the equipment is working properly before entering if you can, specifically the temperature guage.

Stay Alert
While in a sauna, you should always be alert and shouldn't be lying down or doing anything that could cause you to fall asleep or lose track of time. Even more importantly, you should be keeping yourself alert so you can be aware of any changes in the way you feel. If you begin to feel too hot, weak, or tired, you should get out as soon as possible. Before some of those people died at the incident in Sedona, Arizona, they complained that they weren't feeling well and some said they were feeling chest pain. So if you start to feel anything out of the ordinary aside from a little sweat, don't hesitate to throw in the towel and step out for a breather to make sure you're not overheating or having medical problems.

Who Shouldn't Use Saunas
Certain groups of people should never use saunas, because they are at an increased risk for danger. Saunas are bad for pregnant women, because there's been lots of research that has proven that elevated body temperatures during a mother's pregnancy can lead to birth defects in their babies. People who have disorders or diseases should probably consult a doctor first before using a sauna as well. Elderly people and children should not use them either, because they are more prone to falling victim to hyperthermia, which basically means a person's body becomes too hot for them to cool down. This condition can easily be fatal and many people have died from it throughout history. Other people who are prone to hyperthermia in saunas are those who abuse alcohol a lot or use drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Their immune systems and bodily functions may not be as strong as a healthy person's is. Also, individuals who are on both prescription and certain over-the-counter medications should speak speak to their doctors first before going into a sauna. Some medications can cause adverse reactions when a person's body heat increases rapidly.

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