Does sauna help against bronchitis?

Sauna for bronchitis: cure or hindrance? Discover whether sauna visits relieve or rather harm the annoying symptoms of bronchitis, especially in the cold months.
Sauna visit with bronchitis: what to consider?
© saunazeit

Sauna and bronchitis: a hot tip for prevention and relief or a risk for the respiratory tract?

  • Preventive effect: Regular visits to the sauna can strengthen the immune system and thus have a preventive effect against respiratory diseases such as bronchitis.
  • Acute phase: In case of pre-existing acute bronchitis or other respiratory infections, caution is advised and sauna use should be avoided to prevent aggravation or infection of others.
  • Chronic respiratory disease: For people with chronic respiratory diseases, sauna use may have beneficial effects, such as improved blood flow to mucous membranes and relaxation of muscles, including respiratory muscles.

Sauna visit with bronchitis: what to consider?

Bronchitis is an annoying thing. Often a painful cough torments and sufferers don’t sleep a wink at night. Untested, sick and exhausted, they go to work the next morning. Although uncomplicated bronchitis is not life-threatening, it reduces the quality of life immensely. Those affected feel ill and unwell. In the case of an uncomplicated course, fever is also a factor. The course of bronchitis without complications can last up to 14 days.

Doctors typically observe courses of up to six weeks. Six weeks of painful coughing and hoarseness. It’s good if you can shorten the course of the disease. For example, by taking a sauna. But is sauna and bronchitis a good combination, or does it make everything worse?

Regularly going to the sauna relaxes body and mind. It exercises the heart and circulatory system and strengthens the immune system. This has been proven. A distinction is made between Finnish dry saunas with 194-230 °F, bio saunas with 140-158 °F and steam baths with water vapor and a temperature of 113 °F (45 °C).

The saunas develop their effect through the heat supply and an immediately following cold water application. Regular sauna sessions “harden”, prevent colds and strengthen the immune system. Typically, there are infusions in the sauna and steam bath. Essential oils such as eucalyptus or peppermint oil are added to the water. They clear the respiratory tract and regenerate after colds and bronchitis.

Risks and precautions for sauna visits during acute respiratory infections

It’s autumn, and in October and November the cold season slowly creeps in. One is still set on late summer and the golden October days tempt to activities in the fresh air, possibly with too light clothes. And then it happens: A cold announces itself, or worse a bronchitis.

Sauna is good for you and helps with many complaints. But in the case of acute infections of the respiratory tract, such as bronchitis, colds or tonsillitis, a sauna session should be avoided for the time being. This has not only been the case since COVID-19.

On the one hand, there is the risk of infection from other people. On the other hand, saunas can also aggravate an acute infection and lead to complications. If the first mild symptoms appear, it may still be possible to save something with a home sauna or steam bath. However, if symptoms such as faintness, sore throat and cough are already apparent, then it is already too late for a sauna session.

In this case, the sauna would be an additional burden on the cardiovascular system – and that already has enough to do with coping with bronchitis. Your defense system also needs all the forces at its disposal now in the fight against nasty viruses that have gained the upper hand in your body at the moment. Extra stress such as from the rapid change of hot and cold or the intense heat in the sauna cabin would further strain and weaken the ailing body. In that case, the bronchitis will worsen. This is not such a good idea.

Sauna and bronchitis – do they go together?

Sauna helps to breathe deeply. People with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis are therefore recommended to take a sauna. The steam with essential oils and the heat are good for the mucous membranes and promote blood circulation. In addition, the muscles relax in the sauna, and this also applies to the respiratory muscles.

The low irritant air in the sauna and steam bath is almost like the irritant climate at the seaside. Stuck mucus is loosened, and a dry cough gets going. Coughing up is made easier and pathogens are quickly removed from the body system. So if a bronchitis or cold is just coming on or is slowly subsiding, you can certainly risk a cautious visit to the sauna.

Prevent bronchitis with sauna:

  • Initially, go to the sauna once or twice to strengthen the immune system.
  • One session should not last longer than 15 minutes.
  • Just 2 to 3 sauna sessions per visit is enough.

Is it possible to sweat out bronchitis?

Simply sweating out the viruses sounds tempting – but it is pure fantasy. What exactly does the sauna do then? Whether the sauna is good or not with an incipient bronchitis, a skilled sauna-goer can best judge for himself. A room with hot steam helps where it hurts with bronchitis. Namely, in the lungs, where the inflammation mainly spreads. Hot sauna steam loosens and eliminates mucus. Inflammation also decreases significantly with a sauna session. A hot cup of herbal tea with a little honey can further support this process.

Expert opinion: The duality of sauna for respiratory diseases

Dr. med. Andreas Michalsen, medical director of Immanuel Hospital Berlin-Wannsee: Sauna can be a good way to strengthen the immune system and thus prevent colds. With acute bronchitis, however, it is better to avoid sauna sessions. The heat can aggravate the inflammation of the respiratory tract.

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