In an earlier blog post, I talked about using a regular dry sauna for pneumonia. In this blog post, I’ll explain why using an infrared sauna is an even better option if you’ve got pneumonia. I’ll also briefly compare the infrared and dry sauna for pneumonia.
As a disclaimer though, I’m exclusively talking about using an infrared sauna to prevent pneumonia. For pneumonia treatment, consult your doctor immediately - using a sauna in such an instance is not intelligent without consulting your family physician first.
Having made that disclaimer, next up, let’s explore what pneumonia is and why it matters:
Pneumonia is an infection of your airways (1; 2; 3; 4). Bacteria, viruses, and other organisms such as fungi can cause that infection. Every single year, there are hundreds of millions of infections and a few million people die because of pneumonia.
Pneumonia is often paired with inflammation. The most common symptoms for identifying the disease, however, are coughing, having problems breathing, heightened body temperature, and “improper” breathing patterns - such as breathing that’s far too quick.
In general, very young and very old people are most at risk of getting pneumonia. The disease is also strongly associated with other health problems, such as other existing lung conditions, heart and blood vessel health problems, smoking, an improperly functioning immune system, and so forth.
Once you’ve got pneumonia, different treatment options exist. However, the goal here is to not let the health condition exist in the first place - that’s also where I’ll focus the rest of the blog post on.
The first thing to note here is that saunas already deal with many of the pneumonia risk factors - saunas improve heart health, for instance, reduce your risk of getting diabetes and help manage your blood sugar levels, boost your immune system, and keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. You might specifically want to know how is infrared sauna good for pneumonia though - I’ll explore the answer in the next section:
The Pneumonia Infrared Sauna Connection: Why Saunas Are An Underappreciated Tool
In this section, I’ll dig into some direct research on the pneumonia infrared sauna link. I'll cover a few topics one by one:
Lower Pneumonia Risk
A Finnish study followed 2,200+ men for a period of over 25 years (5). Participants were divided into two groups - one group that used a sauna once per week or less, and the other group that used saunas two to seven times per week.
Spending more time in the sauna reduced the risk of getting pneumonia over this 25+ year period by a whopping 21%. Also, the men who generally had higher levels of inflammation - as measured in their blood - decreased their risk of getting pneumonia.
Remember that inflammation is a symptom of pneumonia. In the past, I’ve written an extensive blog post on how spending more time inside a sauna lowers your overall inflammation levels.
A second study by the same researchers backs these earlier results up (6). Here, spending two to three times per week in a sauna reduced pneumonia risk by 31% compared to one session or fewer per week. Also, by getting four sauna sessions per week in or more, risk was reduced with 44% in total.
One more study by the same research group shows huge decreases in the overall risk of getting respiratory diseases as well (7). Hence, spending more time inside a sauna is an amazing preventive tool for lowering your pneumonia risk. Literally, the more hours each week you spend in a sauna, the lower your pneumonia risk becomes.
Of course, if you decided to use a sauna more often, make sure to build up slowly and ensure you're always feeling well during and after your sessions. If you don't feel well, slow down.
Next up, let's look at some specific benefits of infrared light:
Infrared Light Benefits
Other studies have looked at the effects of specific types of light on pneumonia risk. I’m talking about red and near-infrared light here. These wavelengths can be added by getting a full-spectrum sauna or by integrating red light therapy into your sauna experience.
The only downside about these studies is that they either include very few human participants, or are animal studies. Nevertheless, I still want to show you the spectacular results of them:
- First, by merely shining near-infrared light on the chest, one patient with pneumonia saw massive improvements in her health (8). Specifically, after just four treatments, the average oxygen saturation increased from 88-93% to 97-99%. The latter oxygen saturation is almost normal again. Markers for inflammation were also lowered twofold to fourfold.
- Animal studies also show that exposure to near-infrared light lowers inflammation which is characteristic of pneumonia (9; 10; 11).
- Other studies show that the red and near-infrared light can counter pneumonia if it occurs during COVID-19 (12; 13). No side effects are reported and the light inhibits the dangerous “cytokine storm” - an event in which the immune system goes haywire. The cytokine storm is responsible for many COVID-19 deaths, but, countering it with red and near-infrared light seems extremely promising.
What do these results mean? Well, simply put, infrared light has some very promising effects that cannot be attributed to the effects of heating alone. Traditional saunas heat your body by heating the air around you. With an infrared sauna, the infrared light or heat enters your body and heats your cells from the inside out. The infrared light also acts as a kind of nutrient, making many cellular processes more efficient.
If you're curious, you can read my explanations of the difference between a traditional sauna versus an infrared sauna. For now, it's important to remember that quite some studies show that exposing your body to infrared light might have benefits over and above that of heating alone.
So there's that...
There’s one more thing I need to say about countering pneumonia with saunas though:
Upgrading Your Sessions Further With Salt Therapy
Salt therapy is another groundbreaking addition that can make your saunas more health-promoting and healing. If you’re interested, you can read my blog post about salt therapy and its benefits. In this blog post, I’ll just summarise some of the outcomes in relation to pneumonia.
So how does salt therapy or "halotherapy" work? Salt therapy aerosolises salt into the air. You then breathe in that air with tiny salt particles. Those salt particles move through your nose into your airways and have physiological effects there.
A simple analogy to understand this principle is to think about the air you breathe on a normal day. If you're exposed to breathing air from traffic or nearby industry, tiny particles called "particulate matter" and other toxins will enter your airways and affect your health. But, instead of breathing in toxins, with salt therapy you breathe in healing minerals, in the same way you would do at the beach.
Fortunately, there’s also a long tradition of using salt therapy - with many studies backing up the effects - of countering inflammation in the airways. Salt therapy is commonly used to counter conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and COPD. These studies show real improvements in lung function, in turn (14). Examples are improvements in how well you can breathe in and out, and the maximum air volume you can breathe in and out in one breath. Quality of life also goes up, generally.
If you’re interested, check out our Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy® product. The HALOONE is a salt therapy device offering an easy-to-use professional-grade product to consumers.
That way, you can clean your airways and nose, feel great, and improve overall lung function. All these benefits directly counter pneumonia as well.
The most important thing to remember here is that the benefits of infrared saunas and salt therapy for saunas are independent of each other. So, if you use them both, you get two therapies that you can use at the same time to lower the risk of getting pneumonia.
Of course, saunas alone can never replace other healthy lifestyle habits such as getting sufficient sleep, moving, eating healthy, and so forth. But, saunas are a great tool in the toolbox to make you even healthier once the fundamentals are in place.
Lastly, let's conclude:
Conclusion: Build Up Your Weekly Sauna Sessions For The Best Results
Another win for infrared saunas and lung conditions! In the past, I explored the extensive research showing the benefits of saunas for countering asthma and using dry saunas for pneumonia.
For most of these health conditions, including using an infrared sauna for pneumonia, more frequent weekly sessions are best. Recall the figures of 21% and 41% reduction in risk of getting pneumonia in the first place. The only thing you need to do to reap that benefit is using a sauna at least four times a week. If you need to know more about building up to a daily sauna habit, then check the article I wrote on you