Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Steam Sauna Benefits for Older People

Give me an opportunity to create fever and I will cure any illness.

Paramenides, Greek physician

From Saunas of Nordic Europe to Steam Baths of the Mediterranean, therapeutic sweating has existed since the Middle Ages and continues to benefit to peoples wellness today from all over the world. Steam Sauna facilities offer a world of tranquility and relaxation but also offer much in terms of restoration to the body.

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Steam Sauna Benefits

A steam generator is used to create water vapor at high levels of humidity. The heat and humidity may bring health benefits ranging from aiding stress relief, to body cleansing, to soothing aching muscles or arthritis. Different research and user studies show that the benefits of steam showers are numerous and may aid your bodily health by:

1.       Detoxication of the Body. Toxins, your body accumulates over the years, largely contribute to the general ageing process and speed up deterioration of the body as you get older. Just like exercise, Sauna sessions provide for substantial and consistent amounts of sweating that remove toxins from the human body through the pores in your skin. This includes vital organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs, and bowels.
2.       Boosts Immune System. Steam rooms boost the immune system by producing an artificial fever. In response, the body makes more white blood cells. White blood cells, also called leukocytes, help the immune system in the following ways: (1) Phagocytes—a type of white blood cell—help by ingesting bacteria, microorganisms, and old red blood cells. (2) Lymphocytes—another type of white blood cell—help by protecting the body against disease. They permit the body to recall past invaders and aid in destroying them.
3.       Cleanses the Skin. A profuse sauna-induced sweat followed by a shower cleanses your skin far more thoroughly than merely just taking a shower. This process makes your skin soft and healthy and you will feel it immediately after a Sauna session. Sauna treatment is known to be an excellent method of fighting acne and other skin ailments.
4.       Increases Blood Circulation. A sauna session is known to increase heart rate by as much as 30% in one session. The sauna enhances circulation and oxygenates the cells, tissues and organs. It increases the body's ability to produce energy, which promotes healing.
5.       Sauna Weight Loss. Saunas are famous for allowing an individual to sweat excess body fat out of their body. One 30 minute session can result in as much as 400 calories of sauna weight loss being burnt. If weight loss is a motivator in enjoying a Sauna session take into account you will be extremely hungry afterwards as it rapidly speeds up your metabolism!
6.       Relaxes The Body. Be it after a game of sport or busy day in work, the heat and humidity of a Sauna go a long way to heal any aches and pains in the body. A sauna after heavy physical activities will leave tense muscles and sore limbs totally relaxed and rejuvenated.
7.       Relaxes The Mind. The ultimate benefit of a sauna session is the relaxation it brings to the person. The tranquil setting of a wooded cabin and dense heat will go a long way to reduce stress to help to feel relaxed and rejuvenated as a person.
8.       Aids in Healing Injuries. Steam compels blood vessels to expand. This aids in optimal blood circulation, and it allows more nutrients and oxygen to reach damaged muscles and joints. As a result, pain decreases while the body's rate of healing increases.
9.       Treats Medical Conditions. To common benefits of steam sauna may be added the relief of certain medical conditions and symptoms, like
a.       Discomfort of asthma,
b.      Allergies,
c.       Arthritis,
d.      Enhancing the respiratory system,
e.      Relieving throat irritation.
f.        Relieving inflammation and congestion of upper respiratory mucous membranes,
g.       Loosening secretions and stimulating the discharge of mucous from the throat and lungs (natural expectorant), keeping mucous membranes from excessive drying,
h.      Helping in the treatment of cancer. During a session in steam sauna, the functioning of the immune system is stimulated, while the growth of bacteria and virus is forced to slow down. The production of white blood cells, the primary agents of the immune system, is increased, as is the rate of their release into the blood stream. The generation of antibodies speeds up, as does the production of interferon, an anti viral protein that also has powerful cancer-fighting properties.

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Steam Sauna Health Risks

1.       Infection. Bacteria and fungi prefer damp, warm environments with little light. This makes steam rooms perfect breeding grounds for infections to spread. One of the most common is athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, which can occur when your bare feet are exposed the floor of a steam room. Athlete's foot causes stinging, itching, and burning between toes and other areas on your foot. Another common fungal infection is jock itch, or tinea cruris, that affects the upper thigh, genital and buttocks. If someone who has jock itch was sitting on a bench in a steam room, it increases the likelihood the next person who sits there may become infected as well. Always wear shoes in a steam room, and if you sit on a bench, place a clean towel beneath you.
2.       Dehydration. Steam room temperatures range from 110 to 116 degrees F, with 100 percent humidity. A great deal of perspiration ensues, and dehydration can result if you are not careful. The Indiana University School of Medicine states that if your body loses fluids and salt from excessive sweating, you are at great risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The best way to avoid this is to drink plenty of water before and after the steam room, and not to stay in the steam room for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
3.       Special Conditions. Those with respiratory disease, heart palpitations, high or low blood pressure, diabetes and the elderly should consult a physician before entering a steam room. Pregnant women should avoid them altogether. Steam rooms have a negative effect on blood pressure, which inhibits oxygen flow to the fetus and may cause birth defects. Male infertility may also result from spending time in steam rooms. According to the Harvard Medical School, high temperatures can make sperm inactive and disrupt development.
4.       Movements’ Safety. The specifics of the steam sauna operations essentially require a lot of steam. That means the visibility inside is very limited, especially for those who already has particular vision impairment. It may be also slippery, so you should be extremely careful, while moving from the door to the shelf and back.
5.       Excessive Exposure. Individuals should be cautioned about falling asleep in a steam room or sauna, which can cause serious health concerns if heat exposure is too prolonged.

We would strongly recommend consulting your primary physician on the possible benefits and risks before adding steam room to your lifestyle routine.

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Here is the list of recommendation on how to use steam room properly to maximize its health benefits and to minimize negative impact on your health:
1.       Avoid beverage alcohol and excessive caffeine intake and medications that may impair sweating or increase the health risks from heat exposure.
2.       The heat in steam rooms and saunas causes the body to perspire, often in great amounts. Drink plenty of water before entering in order to combat dehydration.
3.       Shower before entering steam sauna to remove any lotions or cleansers that are apt to melt or drip off into the facility.
4.       Check your body for any metal (jewelry and zippers, for example) in order to prevent it from burning your body when it quickly heats up in the facility.
5.       Stay in no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
6.       Cool down gradually after use. Avoid going rapidly from a hot to a cold environment, e.g. sauna cold shower as this increases the physiologic stress on the body considerably.
7.       Drink 2 to 4 glasses of cool water after each session.
8.       Don’t take a sauna or steam bath if you are ill, and if you find yourself feeling unwell while in a steam room or sauna, head for the door. Listen to your body, and leave immediately if you feel dizzy, disoriented, or unwell in any other way.
9.       Ask your health care provider for advice and recommendations, if you have any concerns about potential health risks from steam room use.

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Sources and Additional Information:


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