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Article: Are Infrared Saunas Safe? Unveiling the Health Benefits and Risks

Are Infrared Saunas Safe? Unveiling the Health Benefits and Risks

Are Infrared Saunas Safe? Unveiling the Health Benefits and Risks

Written by Chris Lang

An infrared (IR) sauna functions differently from a traditional variant. Rather than creating heat by warming the air, IR saunas raise your body’s temperature directly. However, there have been many talks about the potential infrared sauna dangers, for instance, “Does sauna raise blood pressure?” But the true question is where such notions come from.

Could it be that the story of the dangers of infrared sauna stems simply from the misunderstanding of the technology, or are there actual adverse infrared sauna side effects? To tackle this question and decide, “Are infrared saunas safe,” you’ll need to explore this sauna type and discern the basics of infrared sauna safety. This article will do just that.

How Do Infrared Saunas Work?

As the name implies, IR saunas emit infrared light that doesn’t affect the air around you but heats your body directly. This happens due to the infrared saunas’ radiation. However, the term “radiation” shouldn’t immediately get you thinking about the eventual side effects of infrared sauna. Why? Not all radiation is bad for you or even unsafe.

In this case, the radiation belongs to the part of the electromagnetic spectrum with longer wavelengths compared to visible light. It is emitted from electric lamps. When this IR radiation comes into contact with skin, its energy transforms into heat.

Based on the frequency of the radiation they emit, infrared saunas can be near and far. Near IR saunas have frequencies closer to the visible part of the spectrum, and while they produce heat, you can’t actually feel them. On the other hand, the output of far infrared saunas is closer to microwaves. You can feel the heat produced by far IR.

In addition to near and far IR, there are also mid and full-range variants, although these two are relatively rare. If you’re confused about the naming, the explanation is quite simple:

Firstly, the term “infrared” can be translated as “beyond red.” This refers to frequencies beyond those in the visible spectrum that form the color red. Why is red taken as a milestone here? It’s the last we can see in the color spectrum. To that end, near-IR is the closest to red, far is the furthest, and goes all the way to infrared frequencies. Mid is, of course, the IR frequency range between near and far, while full-range encapsulates the entire scope of infrared, from the color red to microwaves.

Infrared Heat vs. Traditional Sauna Heat

Infrared saunas have a fundamental difference compared to traditional or steam saunas. In the traditional model, the temperature of the air is heightened, and the heat is then transferred from the air to your body. Conversely, IR saunas use infrared frequencies to warm up the body directly, leaving the air much cooler compared to the traditional variants. The most important difference between infrared and steam sauna is in the temperature.

The heat differences are significant since the traditional sauna can reach temperatures up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit while IR saunas only go to 140 degrees. The reason for this difference is that a traditional sauna relies on the air to transfer the heat onto your skin. Since a portion of the heat is lost in that transfer, the air needs to be hotter to achieve the desired effect. With IR saunas, the skin is warmed up directly, excluding the air as a mediator and requiring less heat energy overall.

It’s worth noting that both sauna types have similar benefits. However, infrared saunas are somewhat easier to withstand as the heat they produce can be less intense. Why? You’re not surrounded by hot air. Plus, infrared saunas have the added benefit of lower humidity compared to the traditional model. Humidity can be a significant factor in how comfortable you feel in the heat – provided the actual temperature is the same, the heat will generally be more bearable if the humidity is low.

Infrared saunas have other advantages over the traditional ones, particularly in terms of practicality. Firstly, since traditional saunas need to heat all the air in the room, they’ll take more time and energy to warm up. In other words, IR saunas are more energy-efficient. At the same time, an IR sauna is easy to set up since it might not require a dedicated sauna room. Finally, infrared saunas require much less maintenance than traditional saunas.

Naturally, an IR sauna will work better if it’s quality built. To that end, you should look towards reliable options like those offered by Komowa Wellness. As with most products, the quality of your IR sauna will inform its functionality.

Health Benefits of Using Infrared Saunas

When talking about the benefits of infrared sauna therapy, apply the same amount of caution as when discussing potential far and near infrared sauna dangers. Namely, neither the advantages nor the downsides are 100% confirmed, and the information about them should be taken with a grain of salt. Certain studies have discovered some benefits of IR saunas, but those findings aren’t conclusive.

With the above in mind, let’s see what are the benefits of an infrared sauna.

Elevated temperature makes the cardiovascular system work at an increased rate. In particular, it boosts blood circulation, which can have numerous secondary benefits. These benefits will be discussed in a dedicated section.

Besides the effects tied to circulation, IR saunas have shown certain benefits when it comes to overall energy levels, metabolism, skin and bone health, and even mental health. In terms of energy, infrared radiation affects the chromophores in your body – compounds that take the energy from IR light and transfer it to the cells.

On a cellular level, the mitochondria may also gain an increased energy output when interacting with IR rays. This reaction may improve metabolism rates. Regarding the skin, IR saunas can boost collagen production, leading to improved scar healing and wrinkle reduction. In bones, infrared radiation can alleviate arthritic pain.

Finally, there may be clues that IR saunas benefit mental health. In some cases, exposure to infrared light resulted in improvements for people with depression and anxiety. Of course, this is a complex subject that will take much more research before these benefits can be confirmed.

Cardiovascular Benefits

The cardiovascular benefits of IR saunas are among the best documented. Various kinds of heat therapy are known to boost cardiovascular health, with potential improvements in severe conditions like heart disease. The boost to circulation could also be responsible for alleviating stress, muscle recovery, and skin conditions like psoriasis.

Similarly, better circulation can contribute to wound healing and may even lead to improved hair growth. IR saunas may even be able to help with elevated blood pressure, too. However, when discussing infrared sauna risks, you should know that one of the greatest risks comes from unproven and anecdotal tales about sauna benefits.

For instance, infrared saunas, particularly far-IR, are said to help in triglyceride and cholesterol reduction. This claim isn’t backed by any proof whatsoever, so relying on IR saunas for help in that regard could even be harmful.

Detoxification

Regarding detoxification, infrared saunas share some effects with many other heat therapy types: sweat loss and calorie burn. These effects help the body release more toxins, but the result happens through the body’s reaction to the heat rather than as a direct result of IR radiation.

In other words, there’s no proof that infrared rays somehow “destroy” toxins. Instead, the heat allows your body to release certain harmful compounds through natural processes that result from temperature regulation.

Are Infrared Saunas Safe?

When assessing the risks of infrared sauna, you should consider the same factors as when discussing the benefits. In particular, a lack of information on how an IR sauna works leads to stories about infrared sauna health risks and benefits, where both sides can be just as much in the wrong.

Generally speaking, infrared sauna negative effects don’t exist as a given. Rather, health risks of infrared sauna can occur due to excessive use, as well as in persons suffering from particular medical conditions.

Consult Your Doctor

The best way to ensure there are no negative effects of infrared sauna is to talk to your doctor before going for a treatment. The medical professional who understands your health condition can answer the question, “Is infrared sauna bad for you?” and, more importantly, “Why infrared sauna is bad for you,” if that’s even the case.

Potential Dangers and Risks

If you’re wondering “what are the negative effects of infrared sauna,” you’ll find a list of common risks associated with heat therapy. These include dehydration, changes in blood pressure, light-headedness, and the possibility of overheating.

Risks for Specific Health Conditions

People with certain medical conditions can experience negative side effects of infrared sauna. In particular, those with kidney issues should avoid it since saunas generally cause body water loss. People prone to dehydration should also avoid saunas for the same reason.

If you’re feeling unwell or are currently taking medication, a sauna might be a bad idea. Similarly, people with contact dermatitis, low blood pressure, or cardiovascular issues shouldn’t spend time in saunas. Lastly, the same goes for pregnant women.

Tips for Using Infrared Saunas Safely

If you want to ensure that there are no risks of infrared saunas for you, it would be best to follow one crucial advice: Don’t spend more than 10 minutes in the sauna until you feel comfortable. In fact, it would be best to limit your sauna sessions to five minutes until you’re completely at ease.

Hydration and Sauna Use

Since your body will be losing water in the sauna, you’ll need to stay hydrated throughout the process. To that end, make sure to have at least two glasses of water before going into the sauna. Once your session is done, have another two glasses of water for optimal hydration.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

When you weigh infrared sauna benefits and risks, you’ll find that the practice doesn’t have many downsides. In fact, infrared saunas are considered safe for anyone not suffering from particular health conditions. Stay hydrated and don’t overdo your sauna sessions, and you’ll likely reap all of the benefits without experiencing any downsides. Learn more about infrared saunas at Komowa Wellness.

 

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