Humidity is kept very low in a dry sauna and water is not splashed on hot rocks to make steam. Temperatures average about 90 degrees F in a dry sauna with humidity levels staying between five and 10 percent. Sweat evaporates easily in a dry sauna, allowing the skin to remain cooler. While there are a number of healthy benefits to a dry sauna, there also are precautions that users should take to avoid serious side effects.
Like any activity that causes the body to sweat, an infrared dry heat sauna can cause dehydration if users don’t replenish their fluids. To avoid dehydration, drink water before, during and after a session in the sauna. Doctors at the Synergy Wellness Center advise drinking sports drinks to replace vital electrolytes that are lost when sweating. Perspiration is made up of potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium, which must be replaced. Side effects of dehydration include dark urine, light-headedness and thirst.Drinking caffeine or alcohol can exacerbate the condition.
People who do not sweat easily may become too hot internally and suffer from adverse reactions. To avoid overheating, keep sessions in the dry sauna to 15 minutes or less. People who do not sweat within 30 minutes should not use a dry heat sauna. Doctors at the American Academy of Family Physicians warn that signs of overheating include headache, nausea, dizziness and increased heart rate. Assistive devices or artificial implants made of plastic can overheat and melt in the dry heat sauna and should be wrapped in two-inch thick towels. Persons who become overheated in a sauna should leave the unit immediately and find a cool place to rest. Emergency medical help is required if the person begins vomiting, has trouble breathing or loses consciousness.
The extreme body heating that occurs while in the sauna can interfere with healing, especially sprains or broken bones. Various medications, such as laxatives, blood pressure or allergy medicine, diuretics and seizure medicine, can be affected by heat. Medicine that has transmitted through patches is disrupted and can cause the medicine to melt or leak and become ineffective. People taking insulin should check their blood sugar levels regularly when using infrared heat. Extreme heat also can trigger the release of any residual medication still in the system, such as antibiotics, hallucinogens and sedatives.
About this Author
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist who’s spent more than 20 years doing in-depth research and reporting on trends in health care and fitness for newspapers and magazines, including the “Greenville News,” “Success,” “Verve,” and “American City Business Journals.” In addition to sports and alternative therapies, Ray has extensive experience covering banking, commercial development and people. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in journalism.