Can Saunas Cure a Cold?
It's that time of year again
With the dip in temperatures and returns to school and work, it is typical to see an uptick in rhinovirus (the common cold). After a summer of playing outdoors, spending more time inside may contribute to the spread of this little bug. And when they say “common” cold, they aren’t joking. Adults contract 2 to 3 colds a year, while children experience even more. While not life threatening, colds can come at the most inconvenient times and can have lingering symptoms, such as coughs and runny noses, that feel relentless.
So can a sauna cure you from this obnoxious bug?
Not exactly. (Sorry!)
But there’s still hope!
Colds are not only one of our most frequently contracted illnesses, but they are persistent little buggers. They also have to “run their course.” Over-the-counter medications will help you tolerate the symptoms, but colds generally will be in your system for up to 7-10 days.
So what do you do in the meantime?
You look for symptom relief.
And what are your symptoms?
Mostly commonly with colds you may feel stuffy/runny nose or just an overall sense of upper respiratory discomfort. The high temperatures of the sauna improve circulation. That increased circulation can reduce inflammation in irritated nasal passages. Bring a towel because you may start losing more than just sweat. *sniff*
Additionally, if you practice the art of löyly, which is dumping ladles full of water on the hot sauna rocks, you indulge in a burst of hot steam that can remove irritants in the nose and throats and relieve inflammation. Bonus points if you add an essential oil like eucalyptus to your water bucket--now that’s next level sauna experience.
So maybe you’ve survived the first cold of the season, but you would like to have fewer colds in the future. Sounds great, right? Especially if you know the odds are in favor of more coming your way. The sauna can help you there. Regular sauna use promotes the creation of new white blood cells which strengthen the immune system. This means that saunas can help prevent getting colds as often. One study in Austria found that those that regularly used a sauna contracted half as many colds as those who did not.
If you are feeling a bout of the sniffles coming on, don’t hesitate to relax your body and mind with a trip to the sauna. Remember to always stay hydrated and get plenty of rest and you’ll be back to yourself in no time!