Visiting the sauna during a cold - is that possible?


Sauna sessions are a popular activity for many people, especially in winter. The body is warmed up and colds are prevented. In addition to the recreational effect, going to the sauna also has health benefits. However, if there is already a flu-like infection or other malaise, it is better not to go to the sauna.

Sauna forms

Overall, different forms of sauna can be distinguished. On the one hand there is the Finnish dry sauna, which is at 90-110 ° C, and on the other hand the dry organic sauna, which has temperatures of 60-70 ° C. There is also the steam bath, which works with steam and is around 45 ° C. Both the steam bath and the infusions in the dry sauna can be mixed with essential oils so that they free the airways and additionally strengthen their defensive function.

Effects of the common cold

If a cold is approaching, it should be individually weighed whether a sauna session is appropriate during this time. Experienced sauna-goers can still benefit from the prophylactic effect of taking a sauna in the early stages of a cold, but there is a risk that the heat in the sauna will make an infection worse. The dry sauna sessions in particular quickly lead to a drying out of the mucous membranes, on which existing pathogens can multiply better. The high temperature is also strenuous for the body, which is why you should not go to the sauna for the duration of a full cold, other illnesses and especially if you have a fever. If the symptoms of the illness slowly subside, going to the sauna can be helpful again. It is best to listen to your own body and follow its needs. Lots of sleep and hydration are essential for a speedy recovery.
In general, when a cold floods or subsides, the steam sauna should be preferred, as this counteracts the drying out of the mucous membranes caused by the steam. The moisture also promotes the discharge of secretions from the nose and makes it easier to cough up. The addition of essential oils can also be helpful and liberating.

Positive and negative effects of taking a sauna

Of the millions of sauna-goers in Germany, a large percentage say that they benefit from the effects of regular sauna use and that they are even better protected against colds or flu.
The positive effects of taking a sauna are based on training the human body to optimally adapt to different temperatures. By changing from high heat to short cold, the body learns to stop freezing so quickly through the rapid regulation of its superficial vessels. This means that the body is better protected against the cold, as one of the major risk factors for catching flu or cold viruses, and the ability to defend itself against the pathogens of the common cold is increased. However, going to the sauna is not suitable as a treatment for a cold. If the cold viruses strike once, however, the protective effect of the sauna can quickly turn into a damaging effect. Every cold demands maximum performance from our body. Top performance for our immune system to keep pathogens in check and exterminating them, as well as high performance for our cardiovascular system, which, especially when a fever occurs, has to do much more than that of a healthy body.
If you have a mild cold without a fever, a visit to the sauna can be very pleasant, similar to a warm bath, and help alleviate the symptoms. Alternatively, if you have a steam sauna nearby, this is considered less stressful for the affected mucous membranes and should be preferred to the normal sauna. Similar to inhalation, the steam can make it easier to cough up mucus and allow you to breathe freely.

However, be careful with a heavier one cold or even flu to let go, especially when a fever is involved. In this case the Load limit for our body and the cardiovascular system almost achieved without a sauna and any additional stress such as a sauna session should be avoided in order not to overload the circulation and the heart.
Especially people who already have to follow this advice Diseases of the cardiovascular system have to have, such as coronary artery disease or even a heart attack. In the worst case scenario, going to the sauna can even lead to another heart attack or complete breakdown of the circulatory system.
Instead of going to the sauna, we recommend that if you have a severe cold physical conservation, at least for the period of the worst symptoms, before cautiously returning to the sauna when symptoms improve.
It is important to listen to the body's signals and not to expect too much, and at best longer breaks to be observed after going to the sauna, in which the body can relax.

Effect of the sauna

The multiple alternations of heat and cold stimulate the blood vessels in the skin and mucous membrane to expand and contract. This trains the vascular muscles and thus the body's ability to regulate heat. In the long run, this means that the body can adapt better to changing temperature conditions and, for example, cools down less quickly in the cold. Due to the better blood circulation in the mucous membranes, defense cells of the immune system can be transported more quickly so that pathogens can be fended off directly on the spot. This consequently provides secondary protection against the development of bacterial and viral colds. Regular saunas also have other positive effects on physical health. This generally trains the circulatory system, improves metabolism and kidney function, and regulates blood pressure. In addition, going to the sauna has a soothing effect on muscle tension, chronic asthma and chronic bronchitis, as well as rheumatic diseases.

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Using the sauna as a prophylaxis against colds

It has been proven that people who regularly visit a sauna suffer significantly fewer infections than non-sauna-goers after just eight to twelve weeks. However, this requires a visit to the sweat bath once or twice a week. With a classic sauna session, the time in the heat should only be 10-15 minutes and the cooling phase should be limited to a short time. For example, a short cold shower is suitable. A long stay in cold water, ice or snow is not recommended. After cooling down, there is a twenty-minute rest phase. The whole procedure should then be repeated two or three times. This is sufficient for the prophylactic effect of taking a sauna.

Read more on the topic: Prevent colds

Does a sauna help to shorten a cold?

Regular visits to the sauna have been shown to help strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of colds. Even if the cold is on the march, a visit to the sauna can help to shorten the duration of the illness. Going to the sauna for colds is only advisable if the cold has not yet fully broken out. At the first signs of a viral infection, such as aching limbs and a sore throat, the high temperature in the sauna can help the body's immune system to keep the pathogens at bay. In addition, the moist air has a calming effect on the irritated mucous membranes of the airways. Nevertheless, the visit should not last longer than 10 to 15 minutes and the cooling off afterwards should also be gentle, as extreme temperature fluctuations put even more stress on the body.
In the case of more advanced colds, even experienced sauna-goers should be careful, as the heavy sweating and the warm air can put too much strain on the already weakened body and in the worst case lead to disorders of the cardiovascular system. It is therefore advisable to listen to your body and avoid going to the sauna during the acute phase of a cold, as it is more likely to stress and damage the body.

Find out more at: How can I shorten the duration of a cold?

Can I make an infusion if I have a cold?

The infusion is the highlight of every visit to the sauna, as the hot steam increases the temperature in the cabin even further. With various additives, the infusion can clear the airways and have a relaxing effect on the body, which can have a positive effect on the course of the disease in the initial phase of a cold. However, if you have more severe symptoms and have an advanced cold, you will not have to visit the sauna or use the infusion.

Sweating in the sauna

At fever "sweating out" in the sauna is definitely not a good idea. By the fever the sick person sweats out a lot of body fluid even without a sauna, which he then uses for his own Cycle and his Salt balance is missing.
This loss must be compensated for by drinking a lot of tea or other beverages. If there is no balance, it can heart by the diminished Amount of blood quickly reach its performance limit, because if there is less fluid in the body it has to heart with more heartbeats, this little liquid can still be distributed throughout the body. Especially a sick one heart can often no longer do this work.

Visiting the sauna during an inflammation of the heart muscle

From a sauna visit during a Inflammation of the heart muscle is strongly discouraged. The problem here is, on the one hand, the inflammation itself Heat only makes inflammation worse and never mend and for another the fact that an inflamed heart is enormously weakened and needs to be spared.
Since the sauna visit with a high load for the whole Cardiovascular system goes along, he is with one Myocarditis like most of the others Cardiovascular diseases anything but recommended. Even if the Myocarditis healed is, you should just gently start again with regular sauna visits and only slowly get your body used to the stress again.
A good alternative offer especially in the re-entry period Cardiovascular gentle Saunas, which only heated to 60 ° C are. One should also be careful when handling the Cooling down after the sauna Let yourself go and replace the jump into the cold water, especially at the beginning, with a light walk in the cool air.

Are there any differences between going to a Finnish sauna or an infrared sauna if you have a cold?

If you have an acute cold and severe symptoms, you should not visit a Finnish or an infrared sauna, as the strain on the weakened body would be too high. To prevent colds or at the first signs of a cold, a sauna visit can strengthen the immune system. The increased body temperature stimulates the body's metabolism and pathogens can be fought better. When visiting the infrared sauna, the entire room is not heated, as is the case with the Finnish sauna, but only the surface of the body. In addition, the temperatures are not as high, which is why the infrared sauna is preferable to the very hot Finnish sauna for mild colds.

I have to follow these rules when going to the sauna with a cold

In the case of an acute cold, the body must be spared and those affected should therefore avoid going to the sauna. In the case of mild complaints or a subsiding cold, the sauna can help the body and strengthen the immune system. So that the load is not too high, the following sauna rules should be observed when you have a cold:

The most important thing is to listen to your body. If you no longer feel good, you should definitely stop visiting the sauna. If you have a fever and a high temperature, you must not take a sauna under any circumstances, as this can lead to circulatory failure and fainting. As the warm air rises in the sauna cabin, the upper benches are the hottest. In order to protect the body, people with a slight cold should better sit in the lower rows, as the temperature there is more bearable. In general, a session should not last longer than 10 to a maximum of 15 minutes. The subsequent cooling-down phase should not be approached too abruptly in the case of a cold, as the body is additionally stressed by strong temperature fluctuations. It is best to avoid the cold pour afterwards and let the body cool down slowly on its own. Since the body loses a lot of fluid through heavy sweating while visiting the sauna, it is extremely important to drink enough water afterwards and to absorb the electrolytes that have been lost in the form of salty food.


To Hardening of the body against colds, regular visits to the sauna are highly recommended. The immune system is strengthened naturally and is better against Temperature fluctuations and Pathogens armed. With the first cold symptoms like Scratchy throat or one dry nose can still be used in the sauna, but join them sniff, Sore throat, to cough or fever In addition, the sauna should not be used until the body has recovered. Otherwise there is a risk of the body with the additionally supplied heat to overload and bring about a significant deterioration in the state of health. If the symptoms improve, you can slowly start again with the sauna. Compliance with the Rest periods However, special care must be taken so that the body can slowly get used to the sauna again.