Empty sauna with a large window letting in natural light

Should I Sauna With a Cold? Balancing Personal Wellness and Community Health

Ah, the common cold. It's a pesky part of life that sneaks up on us when we least expect it. Most of us would do anything to speed up the recovery process, and some might wonder: would a sauna session and dip in the cold plunge knock this thing out?!

While some sources have reported [1] that there is evidence that sauna use might “reduce or prevent cold symptoms,” it's crucial to balance these potential wellness benefits with the health of our community. So, let's explore this topic and clear up the steamy confusion!

The Sauna-Cold Connection: What's the Deal?

Saunas create a temporary artificial fever condition, which stimulates the immune system and enhances circulation. Additionally, a cold plunge following a sauna session can further boost your body's immune response [2], leading some to believe this could help fight off a cold.

However, it's important to remember that while saunas may boost overall health and wellness, they're not a proven immediate treatment for the common cold.

To Sauna or Not to Sauna?

Considering a sauna session when you're under the weather? While the idea of sweating it out might seem appealing, there are a few things to bear in mind:

1. Consider Your Symptoms

If your cold is relatively mild, a sauna session might make you feel better. However, if you're experiencing severe symptoms such as a high fever, intense cough, or chest discomfort, it's best to rest and seek medical advice if necessary.

2. Keep the Community Healthy

Sauna House is a communal space and we cherish the health and wellbeing of those community members! We've invested heavily in air filtration systems to ensure that clear air is circulated quickly through the entire building, but cold viruses spread easily even in well circulated areas. Therefore, we strongly encourage anyone feeling unwell to prioritize rest and recovery at home, limiting the potential exposure to other sauna-goers. You may, however, consider one of our at-home sauna options which would allow you the opportunity to boost your immune system while minimizing community transmission.

3. Listen to Your Body

Your body is your best guide. If you're feeling significantly under the weather, rest and hydration might be more beneficial than a sauna session.

Boosting Your Immune System with Sauna House

While it's essential to stay home when you're actively sick, remember that regular sauna sessions can contribute to overall immune health, potentially making you more resilient in the long run. A study published in the Annals of Medicine journal studied twenty-five participants who underwent sauna sessions, while 25 others refrained from saunas or similar activities. For both sets, data on the occurrence, length, and intensity of common colds were documented over a six-month period. It was reported that there “were significantly fewer episodes of common cold in the sauna group” [3]. It was concluded that “regular sauna bathing” probably reduces the incidences of common colds.

The Takeaway

Sauna and cold plunges may offer some temporary relief for mild cold symptoms, but they should not be seen as proven cures. Studies do suggest that frequent sauna use may minimize the frequency with which one experiences common colds over the long run. Above all, it's vital to prioritize the health of the wider community when deciding to visit a communal space when under the weather.

Finally, please remember that sauna is certainly not recommended for anyone with a fever, dehydration could make your condition worse. At Sauna House, we believe in a balanced approach to wellness, centered on self-care, respect for others, and a love for the sauna lifestyle.


Inside of a barrel sauna overlooking a lake

Citing our sources:

1. Anahad O’Connor (Feb. 2, 2009). The Claim: Sitting in a Sauna Can Relieve Cold Symptoms in The New York Times.

2. M. J. Tipton, N. Collier, H. Massey, J. Corbett, M. Harper (Aug. 23, 2017). Cold water immersion: kill or cure? in The Physiological Society.

3. E. Ernst,E. Pecho,P. Wirz &T. Saradeth. (1990). Regular Sauna Bathing and the Incidence of Common Colds in Annals of Medicine, Volume 22, 1990.

September 25, 2023
By: Sauna House