DANGERS OF INFRARED
Below are some of the situations when it is not
advised to use an infrared sauna.
Let’s talk for a few minutes about when it’s not advised for you to use a sauna. As reported in the section on children, an infrared sauna is not advised for use by children under the age of 15 or 16. You read in the section on skin when it’s not advisable to use the sauna for extreme cases of eczema; however, you also read that while initial sitting in an infrared sauna may make the eczema worse, continued use will actually help it to improve. Other than those times, what are some other instances when you shouldn’t use a sauna? Here is a general listing:
When you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
When you have a gastro-intestinal flu, are vomiting, or have diarrhea. Under these conditions
your body is usually dehydrated and sitting in the sauna can take more fluids out of your system
making you more dehydrated;
If you have a high risk pregnancy; or,
If you are dizzy and/or disoriented.
Researchers agree that far-infrared rays help increase blood flow and local temperature of the body. Habib et al (2007) state, “The penetrating infrared energy brings nutrients and oxygen to the soft tissue region being treated and at the same time stimulates the removal of accumulated toxins.” The authors site several studies reflecting the healing nature of far-infrared rays for the management of chronic pain, chronic fatigue, coronary risk factors, vascular endothelial function, and atherosclerosis. This case study also warns against localized use of far-infrared heaters for one particular area of the body after a 48 year old woman sustained deep burns on her ankle after 40 minutes of use with an additional attachment of a ‘far-infrared jade node’ that was connected to the infrared system. The authors warn against prolonged usage of direct placement of far-infrared nodes to the skin. Safety precautions included with manufacturer directions should be followed along with proper medical supervision when far-infrared sauna units are used in medical practice (Habib et al, 2007).
Pregnancy is an exciting time in any woman’s life – and family. Managing the delicate balance of health of mother and baby are crucial. For this purpose, I want to reiterate to always check with your doctor before doing anything out of the ordinary. Research studies on healthy pregnant women show lower temperature sauna use at 15 to 20 minutes is safe; however, if you have any difficulty with any part of your pregnancy, why take the chance? Hot tub use is prohibited, as is an extremely hot bath; temperatures are important, so if you choose to use your sauna during pregnancy, be sure to use the temps at no more than 100 degrees F. Pregnant women should not practice hot yoga and should always work with a trained yogi for any yoga asana. Refer to your doctor or midwife for anything to do with your pregnancy.
What about children in an infrared sauna? While sauna bathing in Finland is an integral part of their culture, there are some significant things to keep in mind before taking a child into the heat of an infrared sauna.
Sauna bathing causes substantial circulatory changes in adults, but the adult body adjusts quite well to these changes. Children have an inferior thermoregulatory system when compared to an adult, have less body fat, and have more skin surface area to body weight ratios. Core temperatures in children increase more quickly because of the child’s smaller size and thinner skin tissue. The ability to lose core heat through sweating is not fully developed in children and thermoregulatory failure takes place more easily in children than in adults. Children’s bodies cannot release heat by blood from their core to their skin in a hot environment most likely because of their limited cardiovascular reserves. Oxygen uptake in children, as measured by stroke volume, is also markedly lower than in adults. Resting heart rates are higher in younger children than adults showing the heart already working at capacity to properly move blood throughout their smaller bodies. Basically, it is much harder for children’s bodies to release heat from their body cores through blood flow and sweating than it is for adults.
It is important to not let a child overheat. Their smaller bodies cannot compensate quickly enough to counteract the overheating. While short periods of 5 minutes in a cooler sauna, such as an infrared sauna set at a lower temperature, may not be harmful to a child, err on the side of caution and not expose children under the age of ten to sauna usage.