Saunas have been used for centuries as a means of relaxation and health promotion. The steamy environment is believed to have numerous benefits for the body and mind. However, when you're feeling under the weather, the question arises: Can you still enjoy the sauna when you're sick? In this blog post, we'll explore the relationship between saunas and illness, focusing on the example of having a cold.


Before diving into the connection between saunas and sickness, let's first understand what a sauna does to the body.

  1. Heat and Sweating:

    Saunas operate by creating a high-temperature environment, often using dry heat or steam. The elevated temperature induces sweating, which is the body's natural way of cooling down. Sweating also plays a role in detoxification, as it helps eliminate waste and impurities from the body.

  2. Relaxation and Stress Reduction:

    Beyond the physical benefits, saunas are renowned for their ability to promote relaxation. The heat soothes muscles, eases tension, and can be a great way to unwind mentally.

Now, let's address the key question: Can you do a sauna when you have a cold?


  1. The Proponents:

    Some argue that a sauna session can be beneficial when you have a cold. The heat may help alleviate congestion by opening up nasal passages. Additionally, sweating can contribute to the elimination of toxins, potentially aiding the body's natural healing process.

    Fact Check: While saunas can indeed provide relief from congestion temporarily, they do not directly treat the underlying cause of the cold, which is usually a viral infection.

  2. The Opponents:

    On the other hand, there's a school of thought that believes exposing the body to high temperatures during illness may overtax the immune system. Fever is a natural response to infection, and artificially inducing a fever-like state through a sauna might not be advisable.

    Fact Check: Raising the body temperature in a sauna does not replicate the controlled, regulated process of a fever. It's essential to listen to your body and avoid excessive heat that could lead to dehydration.


Temporary Boost:

Saunas are often associated with an immune system boost. The heat prompts an increase in white blood cells and may enhance the production of antibodies. This has led some to believe that saunas could help fend off infections.

Fact Check: While there is evidence that saunas can have positive effects on certain aspects of the immune system, relying solely on saunas to prevent or treat illnesses is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and regular exercise.


  1. Hydration:

    One of the main concerns when using a sauna during illness is the potential for dehydration. Illnesses like colds can already lead to fluid loss through sweating and mucus production. Adding the additional factor of a sauna could exacerbate this.

    Fact Check: It's crucial to stay well-hydrated, both before and after a sauna session. Dehydration can worsen symptoms and hinder the body's ability to recover.

  2. Listening to Your Body:

    The most important factor when deciding whether to use a sauna while sick is to listen to your body. If you feel weak, dizzy, or if your symptoms worsen in the heat, it's best to skip the sauna.


  1. Steam Inhalation:

    If the goal is to relieve congestion, steam inhalation can be a gentler alternative to a sauna. Inhaling moist air can help soothe irritated nasal passages.

  2. Warm Baths:

    Opting for a warm bath instead of a sauna can provide relaxation without the intense heat. Adding Epsom salts or essential oils can enhance the experience and promote a sense of well-being.


In the debate of whether you should hit the sauna when you have a cold, the answer isn't black and white. While some individuals may find relief from certain symptoms, it's crucial to approach saunas with caution during illness. Hydration, listening to your body, and considering alternative methods are key factors in making a decision.

Remember, saunas should complement a healthy lifestyle rather than serve as a quick fix for illnesses. If in doubt, it's always wise to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Incorporating sauna sessions into your wellness routine can have its benefits, but moderation and mindfulness are key, especially when under the weather.

Here you can read more about the health benefits of doing a sauna every day.

Written by Malin.

Back to blog