Saunas can help people unwind and relax, but they also offer a number of other health benefits. An improved cardiovascular system, better detox, deep skin exfoliation, and stress reduction are just some of the well-known benefits of a sauna. But can saunas actually help you fight off a viral infection?
The High Temperatures Of A Sauna Trigger Fever
A momentary, artificial fever is induced by the overall body temperature rising to approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit in a sauna. This stimulates the immune system. During an infection, your body’s white blood cells (T and B cells) multiply, which allows them to find harmful bacteria in your body’s tissues. Your body’s immune system is aided by these cells, which operate in concert to bind and destroy germs.
Intense Heat Can Kill Viruses
Consistent use of a sauna can help kill viruses before they have a chance to multiply because they cannot survive in temperatures higher than one’s core body temperature. Because of the sauna’s effect on growth, healing will be accelerated, and further infection will be prevented.
As a reference, in a clinical investigation, 50 participants were placed into two groups; one group had sauna therapy over many months, while another group did not. Half reduced the prevalence of the common cold in those who received weekly sauna treatments.
Sauna therapy’s health benefits extend far beyond the common cold; people who regularly use saunas have a reduced risk of getting pneumonia and respiratory diseases than those who only use saunas once a week.
Toxins Are Released In The Sauna, Which Aids In The Fight Against Infection
An infrared sauna spa induces a fever, but it also causes you to sweat, which aids in the removal of toxins from the air and products you’ve come into contact with. Sweating releases toxic metals, urea, and BPA, all of which can impair your immune system when your white blood cells are battling illnesses and harmful bacteria in your system.
Mucus Production Is Inhibited By Dry Air
To prevent infection, the mucus layer traps most virus particles before they can do any harm. When we breathe in dry air, the mucus becomes easier for viruses to enter our bodies. For various viruses, including the COVID-19 pandemic coronavirus, rhinovirus, and influenza, dry air is ideal. When the relative humidity in a room ranges from 40% to 60%, people are at ease. However, when the relative humidity falls below 20%, our mucus layer dries up, reducing our ability to fight off viruses. We may become ill as a result of viruses entering our bodies.
A typical sauna has a relative humidity of 10–20 percent. Only a minority of sauna bathers go through with the ritual of drenching themselves in water. Humidity levels can rise as high as 80 percent during this activity, ideal for stimulating mucus production and tissue repair. As soon as the mucus layer on our nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses is restored in the humid air, we are again prepared to fight off viruses.
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Cold vs. High Temperature
Sauna’s heated air will quickly exterminate any viruses that manage to get past the initial line of defense. High temperatures are not a friend to many viruses. Cold-causing human rhinoviruses are an example of this type of virus. Several studies have shown that rhinoviruses can thrive in temperatures as low as 33°C (91°F).
As a result, upper respiratory infections are likely to be caused by rhinoviruses since they cannot thrive in lower body temperatures. For only a brief period, we activate our immune system and reduce the rhinovirus’ ability to multiply by more than 90%. Rhinoviruses, as well as several other viruses, have a hard time thriving in a sauna environment.
COVID-19 And The Sauna
High temperatures aren’t ideal for the coronavirus either, but for a different reason. As they move from one host cell to the next, coronaviruses are shielded by an envelope. Because they are more resistant to the cold, these viruses are more common in the winter and thus more likely to spread and infect people.
To avoid this, keep the temperature between 55–65°C (131–149°F) for no more than 15–30 minutes. For temperatures above 80°C (176°F), one minute is sufficient. The virus, on the other hand, cannot withstand temperatures this high.
Coronaviruses are also sensitive to an alkaline environment and should not be exposed. During a sauna session, our inhalation becomes heavier and more rapid as the temperature increases. As a result, our blood’s pH rises. Coronavirus strands cannot replicate, become inactive, or disintegrate completely in these conditions.
A Sauna Can Aid In The Fight Against Infection In Various Ways
Until recently, we didn’t know precisely how saunas helped fight viruses. When we enter a sauna, for example, our bodies produce more heat shock proteins (HSPs). In response to heat shock or other forms of stress, HSPs are secreted to keep proteins from deteriorating. These stimulate both our innate and adaptive immune systems.
As a result, our immune system as a whole is stronger. As an added benefit, heat shock proteins strengthen our cells’ ability to survive stressors and prevent influenza viruses from replicating.
A 1 5-minute sauna treatment can also trigger an immune response, raising the quantity of wbcs, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and basophils. Interferons’ antiviral effect is also enhanced by hyperthermia, found in sauna therapy.
Antiviral antibodies are increased, and our immune system is stimulated by the production of interferons, which our bodies manufacture. Many ways sauna therapy may help us fight off infections are available to us.
Yes, But Is It That Simple?
You might be thinking that when it comes to protecting ourselves from viruses, regular sauna use is a no-brainer. It’s not quite that simple, alas! Remember that even if the sauna thermometer hits 120 degrees Fahrenheit (248 degrees Celsius), your body’s core temperature will only increase a few degrees.
High temperatures don’t affect infected virus particles that have already entered our bodies. If we’re already sick, taking sauna baths isn’t a miracle cure. Preventive measures include using saunas to enhance our immune systems, revitalize the mucus blanket in our nasal passages, and destroy available virus particles in our upper airways.
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