Can Sauna Make You Sick?

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Written By: Timo
can sauna make you sick

Have you ever experienced the euphoric relaxation of a sauna? The enveloping heat, the tranquil ambiance, the feeling of utter rejuvenation.

But what happens when this ancient practice takes a turn for the worse? Can saunas actually make you sick?

Despite the numerous benefits, some people may experience unpleasant symptoms after using a sauna.

In this article, we’ll delve into the potential risks of this popular wellness practice and give you the tools to stay healthy and happy.

Feeling Sick vs. Getting Sick

It’s important to differentiate between feeling unwell and being actually sick.

Feeling unwell after using a sauna can manifest in different ways, from mild discomfort to more severe symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. However, feeling unwell doesn’t necessarily mean that you are sick.

On the other hand, being sick implies that you are experiencing a specific illness caused by a virus or bacteria.

Therefore, if you feel sick after using a sauna, it’s possible that you are experiencing some level of discomfort or unwellness, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are actually sick.

Flu-Like Symptoms After Sauna

Illustration of an unwell woman feeling flu symptoms outside a sauna room

One of the most common symptoms people report after using a sauna is feeling flu-like.

This can include a general feeling of fatigue, muscle aches, and even a mild fever. While this may sound alarming, it’s actually a sign that your body is responding to the heat and attempting to cool down.

Dizziness After Sauna

Dizziness is a common symptom that can occur after using a sauna, particularly if you stay in the sauna for too long or don’t hydrate properly.

According to research, sauna bathing will acutely increase blood pressure while in the sauna. However, after the sauna, blood pressure can drop below the pre-sauna level. This drop in blood pressure can make you feel tired or dizzy.

Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, is a common cause of dizziness after using a sauna. When your blood pressure drops, your brain may not get enough oxygen and nutrients, which can cause you to feel lightheaded or faint. Other symptoms of low blood pressure include blurred vision, confusion, nausea, and weakness.

If you do experience dizziness after using a sauna, it’s important to take action right away. Sit down or lie down to rest, and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid getting up too quickly or standing for long periods, as this can make dizziness worse. If your symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention right away.

Feeling Dizzy After Sauna and Cold Plunge

If you’re using a sauna that includes a cold plunge or pool, you may experience dizziness after getting out. This can be due to a sudden change in temperature and blood pressure, which can cause your body to feel lightheaded and unsteady.

To minimize this symptom, be sure to take your time getting in and out of the cold plunge or pool. You can also try sitting or lying down for a few minutes after getting out, to allow your body to adjust to the temperature change.

Sore Throat After Sauna

Illustration of an unwell woman holding her sore throat in a sauna cabin

Another common symptom people report after using a sauna is a sore throat.

This can occur due to the dry heat in the sauna, which can irritate the sensitive tissues in your throat. In some cases, this can also be a sign of dehydration, which can cause your throat to feel dry and scratchy.

To minimize this symptom, be sure to drink plenty of water before and after using a sauna. You can also try using a humidifier or steam inhaler to help soothe your throat.

Aches and Pains

Aches and pains are not common symptoms after using a sauna, but they can occur in some individuals.

People with arthritis may experience worsened symptoms after using a sauna, according to a Finnish medical doctor Jaakko Halonen (pardon, the source is in Finnish). Similarly, those with fibromyalgia may experience a short-term exacerbation of symptoms after sauna use.

However, research has shown that infrared sauna therapy may have short-term beneficial effects on pain, stiffness, and fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

In a study published in 2009, 17 patients with RA and 17 patients with AS were treated with a series of eight infrared sauna treatments over a four-week period. During the infrared sauna sessions, both RA and AS patients experienced a statistically significant decrease in pain and stiffness, as well as a reduction in fatigue.

It’s important to note that sauna use may not be suitable for everyone, and individuals with preexisting health conditions should consult with their healthcare provider before using a sauna.

If you experience any aches or pains after using a sauna, it’s best to take a break and rest. If the symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention.

Headache After Sauna

Woman sitting after a sauna wearing a swimsuit, rays of light around head to illustrate headache

If you experience a headache after using a sauna, it may be due to the heat and dehydration.

When you sweat in a sauna, your body loses fluids and electrolytes, which can lead to headaches and other symptoms. This can be exacerbated if you’re not properly hydrated before and after using the sauna.

To minimize this symptom, be sure to drink plenty of water before and after using a sauna. You can also try drinking a sports drink or other electrolyte-rich beverage to help replenish lost fluids and minerals.

What to Do If You Feel Sick After Sauna

Illustration of a woman drinking water, a traditional Finnish sauna cabin in the background

If you do experience any of the above symptoms after using a sauna, there are several things you can do to help alleviate them.

First and foremost, it’s important to drink plenty of water and other fluids to help rehydrate your body. It’s probably also a good idea to take a break from using the sauna for a few days to allow your body to recover.

If your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider. They can help you determine if there is an underlying medical condition that may be causing your symptoms, and provide advice on how to manage them.

In addition to the above tips, it’s important to take a cautious approach when using a sauna.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and any safety guidelines provided by the facility where you’re using the sauna. This can help reduce the risk of illness or injury, and ensure that you’re getting the most out of this popular wellness practice.


In summary, while saunas can be a great way to relax and unwind, they do come with some potential risks. Feeling sick after using a sauna is relatively common, but serious illness is rare. By following the tips and guidelines provided in this article, you can help minimize the risk of unpleasant symptoms and ensure that you’re staying healthy while enjoying this popular wellness practice.

Remember, the key is to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to minimize them. By drinking plenty of water, taking breaks between sauna sessions, and consulting with a healthcare provider if necessary, you can help ensure that you’re getting the most out of your sauna experience while staying healthy and safe.

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