Protect from Hidden Dangers in the Sauna, Steam Room or Hot Tub

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After a work out or sports activity, the Sauna, Steam Room or Hot Tub relaxes sore muscles. Watch out for these hidden dangers.

Going to a spa is a great way to relax sore muscles from workouts, sports, or a stressful day. There is something about soaking in warm water or opening pores of the skin to let out the toxins that help your body recover faster from workouts. However, there are hidden dangers in your favorite sauna, steam room, or hot tub because these are used by the public and are rarely cleaned in between uses.

Sauna: The wooden benches and floors are porous and difficult to clean and disinfect. The dry heat from the sauna dehydrates the mucous membranes of users making them very susceptible to respiratory viral infections. Hidden dangers in the sauna are cold viruses, e. coli and MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus), potentially deadly strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

Protect yourself by wearing appropriate shower shoes or slippers and sitting on a towel while using the sauna. These will act as barriers between the sauna surface and your skin. Avoid the sauna if there is someone inside coughing.

Hot Tub: A bacteria (mycobacterium avium) that can be inhaled could lead to hot tub lung. It is an infection which causes sufferers to have fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The high temperature of the water neutralizes the chlorine that disinfects the hot tub and allows the bacteria to thrive and rise in the air.

Protect yourself by choosing outdoor hot tubs. The steam dissipates faster in open spaces where the air is not stagnant.

Steam room: There are many bacteria that thrive in warm and moist place. Similar to the sauna, MRSA lurks in the steam room. Studies have shown that MRSA infections contracted outside a hospital die within a year.

Protect yourself by not having a presteam shave that gives you razor nicks. MRSA and other germs and bacteria enter your body through broken skin. Shower and soap thoroughly after using the steam room.

In general, when using facilities that are open to the public, try to protect yourself by avoiding unusually crowded facilities and those that are poorly maintained. Additionally, wait about two hours after meals before using these facilities, remove all jewelries and accessories, drink at least 8 ounces of water to avoid dehydration and, even if you're comfortable going in without clothes, for your protection, it's better to at least wear a towel. Lastly, choose a facility that is somewhat exclusive with good maintenance of facilities.


More Dangers of Saunas and Hot Tubs

Those with a heart condition should be very wary of getting into a hot tub. Medical experts have stated that sudden emersion into very hot water or an extended stay in hot water can superheat your body and stress the heart. “Hot tubs and saunas are potentially dangerous for patients with known or suspected heart disease,” says cardiologist Curtis Rimmerman, MD. When the body temperature rises while in a hot tub, the blood pressure can drop, always regulate the temperature, and limit your exposure to the hot water.

Normally, sweating causes evaporation and creates a normal cooling effect on the body, but if you stay in a sauna or hot tub too long, the evaporation process does not work as it should.

If you should start to feel dizzy, or lightheaded, or feeling like fainting, this can be an indication of a drop in blood pressure and the hearts inability to properly pump blood, get out and cool off. For those with hardening of the arteries, this can also cause a rise in blood pressure, which is just as dangerous as a drop in blood pressure.

If you have any type of heart problems, always check with your doctor before using a sauna or a hot tub.


Cleveland Clinic


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Posted on Sep 13, 2010
Maria Cecilia de Guzman
Posted on Sep 12, 2010