The sauna provides many health benefits, from post-workout muscle recovery to pore detoxification. But, knowing how beneficial the sauna can be, you may find yourself wondering if it can be good for an ear infection?
Visiting a sauna can be good for helping treat an ear infection. The heat from the sauna increases your body’s average temperature, mimicking a fever and forcing your body into recovery mode. The heat can also help detoxify your body, and increase the blood flow to your ear, resulting in relief from the painful pressure.
Keep reading to learn the science behind how the sauna is suitable for an ear infection and how heat and humidity could help.
Can the sauna help get rid of an ear infection?
You wake up in the morning, and there is a throbbing pain in your ear. You call your doctor, but she can’t fit you in for a few days. The pain is too bad to wait for relief. Remembering how well the sauna helped your pains in the past, you wonder if it could help get rid of an ear infection as well.
Saunas can help in the treatment of many ailments, ear infections included. The sauna, steam room, and infrared sauna all have benefits that help get rid of an ear infection.
The sauna’s heat raises your body temperature to an average of 102°F. This hyperthermic treatment mimics a fever and forces your body into recovery mode. Additionally, the heat detoxifies your body and increases circulation and blood flow to the ear, resulting in pressure relief.
Inhaling the sauna’s steam allows for the decongestion of accumulated mucus by traveling through your respiratory tract.
Although ear infections are more common in children, around 200,000 adults suffer from these infections each year. If you find yourself among this group and you are looking for a way to feel some relief, the sauna is a viable option.
Does heat help ear infections?
An ear infection occurs when there is a build-up or blockage of fluid in the eustachian tube, the canal that connects your middle ear to your pharynx. When this tube is blocked, blood circulation decreases, worsening the symptoms and spread of the infection.
Using heat can be an excellent way to alleviate symptoms and prevent the spread of infection by promoting blood flow within the eustachian tube.
The presence of heat also creates an analgesic effect. An analgesic effect changes the way that your body perceives pain, decreasing sensations in the body.
Additionally, heat can soothe the pain from an ear infection by relaxing muscles and evaporating the fluid in your ear.
Is steam good for an ear infection?
Steam can be excellent for an ear infection because humidity opens nasal passageways and loosens/breaks up the mucus, allowing easier fluid excretion.
The ear canal directly connects to the nose and throat. When your body releases mucus in your nasal passages, it relieves pressure that is causing pain in your ear.
Another way that steam and humidity may help with an ear infection is through sweat.
According to research from all over Europe, sweat can treat infections because our skin has a natural protein that can kill harmful microbes when activated by sweat.
Can you get an ear infection from a sauna?
Maybe you’ve heard that it’s possible to pick up a bacterial infection from an unclean sauna, but can you get an ear infection?
On its own, a sauna can not cause a person to get an ear infection. The only way that a dry heat sauna can cause an ear infection is if another person with a sinus infection uses the sauna and is not adequately cleaned.
Like anywhere else in the world, the transfer of harmful bacteria from one person to another can cause illness.
Thankfully, saunas are cleaned thoroughly, making the risk of contracting an illness minimal. If you have any concerns, you can speak to someone at your health club or spa to find out their specific cleaning policies and procedures.
How to use the sauna to help an ear infection
You can maximize the positive effects of the sauna’s heat by staying hydrated and sitting in an upward position.
When using a sauna to help with your ear infection, you can use the sauna as you usually would. There is no need to change the temperature or length of time you’re used to.
Although some people like to lay down on the sauna bench, it is best to sit straight up if you have an ear infection because laying down usually increases ear pain.
Before using a sauna, be sure to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is always essential, but a sauna can cause you to sweat, so be sure to drink water before and after your session.
How to use the steam room to help an ear infection
The Natural Library of Medicine highlights a few essential oils that you can use in the sauna to help aid the effects of the steam.
Use the steam room more effectively by adding these essential oils into your routine:
- Tea tree oil and/or Basil oil – Tea tree oil and basil oil are both natural antiseptics, anti-inflammatories, and antifungals, leading to the accelerated healing and the breakdown of fungal cells’ membranes.
- Clove oil and/or Oregano oil – Clove oil and oregano oil are both natural antibiotics. Their antibacterial properties can kill off the fungus, viruses, parasites, and even bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
The steam room has a remarkable ability to clear your sinuses. When you sit in the steam room, maximize the clearing of your passageways by tilting your head forward in the downright position.
Don’t forget to bring a box of tissues and always let sauna staff know that you are sick so that the room is adequately disinfected.
How to use the infrared sauna to help an ear infection
Like the dry heat and steam room, an infrared sauna can help decongestion and improve blood flow to the ears. However, infrared saunas have another trick up their sleeve.
An infrared sauna is also a great way to help with an ear infection because they heat your body’s core through deep infrared light penetration. The sauna heat mimics the body’s natural defense against infections: a fever. By simulating a fever, your body is forced to go into recovery mode.
This heat-induced recovery mode encourages your body to get rid of fungal and bacterial infections, all while boosting immunity. A boost in immunity increases white blood cells and antibodies.
In the infrared sauna, your body will be releasing a lot of toxins. So it’s suggested you shower after your session to ensure you wash all of the toxins away. Since the heat mimics a fever, taking a warm shower would be ideal, but it is perfectly fine to cool off with a colder shower if you feel the need.
An infrared sauna typically does not cause sweat until after about 10 minutes. You are already getting the benefits of the infrared lights, so it’s best to leave if you start to feel uncomfortable. Your comfort should not be compromised when you use a sauna.
Each type of sauna can help with ear infections through decongestion, pressure relief, analgesic effects, detoxification, sweat, fever mimicking, and of course through relaxation. Relaxation is crucial for recovery.
If you have an ear infection, it is always advised to call your doctor because a more severe problem or condition may cause it.
Saunas can be used in conjunction with antibiotics, so if your doctor permits it, head over to the sauna for some relaxation and natural pain relief!