Is Sauna Good for Bloating? (Understanding Water Retention)

Bloating can be incredibly frustrating. Pants that fit you the day before are now too tight, even though you haven’t gained any weight. What’s going on? Can visiting the sauna help relieve this frustration?

A trip to the sauna can help relieve bloating caused by excess water retention. This is because saunas help you sweat out extra water. It can also be good for bloating caused by recent weight gain as the sauna can help with weight loss. Bloating caused by other factors, such as gas, overconsumption, or hormones, may not be affected by the sauna.

Keep reading to discover how the sauna can help with bloating!

What causes bloating in the first place?

We’ve all heard of bloating, and most of us have experienced it. But what causes it?

Bloating can be caused by many things, only some of which are within our control.

Some common causes of bloating include:

  • Eating too much, too quickly
  • A food intolerance
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Having gas
  • Hormones
  • A serious medical condition

Bloating is pretty common, with between 10% and 25% of healthy adults claiming occasional bloating. Meanwhile, people with IBS report numbers closer to 90%. Seventy-five percent of people on their periods report bloating before and/or after their cycle.

Some reasons for bloating caused by gas include:

  • Poor absorption of carbs
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Digestive disorders

Another reason for bloating is digestive contents, including:

  • Constipation
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Motility disorders
  • Recent weight gain

Can the sauna help with bloating?

Bloating takes place when your belly feels extra full, usually due to excess gas or air. Can the sauna help relieve bloating?

The sauna can help with bloating if your bloating is caused by excess water. This is because of how much you sweat in the sauna, leading to sweating out that water. Many models sit in the sauna before photoshoots to get rid of bloating.

It’s very important to rule out medical conditions if you experience bloating on a regular basis.

Some immediate treatments for bloating include:

  • Going for a walk
  • Yoga
  • Gas relief capsules
  • Abdominal massage
  • Essential oils
  • Warm baths

The best way to relieve recurrent bloating is by making more significant lifestyle changes. Long-term treatments for bloating include:

  • Increasing fiber in your diet
  • Not drinking as much soda
  • Becoming more active
  • Eating on a schedule
  • Probiotics 
  • Consuming less sodium

Does heat worsen bloating?

Since saunas are hot, it’s important to consider how this heat will affect bloating.

There are anecdotal accounts of summer heat making bloating worse. Likewise, researcher Dr. Christine Manswer found that heat waves increase flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease, which can cause bloating.

Dr. Manswer’s study found “a substantial increase in hospital admissions because of flares of IBD” due to heat waves.

Does sweating help with bloating or reduce water retention?

Likewise, we need to think about how sweating affects bloating.

Sweating helps with bloating if your bloating is caused by excess water because sweating reduces water retention.

Some bloating is caused by excess water retention. In these cases, sweating can help reduce bloating.

Is steam good for bloating?

Steam and bloating have a unique relationship.

There are reports of vaginal steaming helping reduce period pains such as bloating, but no reputable studies have taken place.

Vaginal steaming is the process of squatting over herbal-infused steam, either at a spa or at home. Many of the herbs chosen are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

However, one study warns about vaginal steaming: a woman sustained second-degree burns after an at-home vaginal steaming session gone wrong.

Can the sauna make you bloated?

It’s worth asking: can the sauna make things worse?

The sauna can not make you bloated. In fact, saunas reduce water retention which may be related to bloating.

There are no reports, either anecdotal or proven, that saunas make people bloated. As previously stated, some models even sit in saunas before photoshoots to lessen bloating.

Which type of sauna is best for bloating?

If you want to use the sauna for bloating, which kind should you choose?

Steam rooms are the best type of sauna for bloating. This is because heat may exacerbate bloating, and steam rooms are less hot than other sauna varieties. However, they are still hot enough to cause you to sweat, which reduces water retention and will potentially help with bloating.

Steam rooms only reach a temperature of 120°F. Meanwhile, infrared saunas can reach 140°F and dry saunas get as hot as 195°F (or hotter in certain countries!). 

Due to anecdotal reports of summer heat making bloating worse, along with studies proving that heat worsens IBD, it makes sense to opt for the least-hot sauna.

That being said, you will still sweat in a steam room, so water retention will be reduced, hopefully helping your bloating!

Traditional dry sauna and bloating

Traditional dry saunas are the most well-known kind of sauna. So how do you use one?

To use a traditional dry sauna for bloating, you should go three times a week for 15-minute sessions. Start out with five-minute sessions and build from there. Never stay in for longer than 20 minutes to avoid dehydration and other negative effects.

It’s important to follow this schedule as using the traditional sauna inappropriately can result in a lot of ailments

That being said, there’s a lot to gain from dry sauna bathing beyond just reduced bloating. Saunas increase hGH, the human growth hormone. This will help you build and repair muscles.

You also burn about 50% more calories while in the sauna! If your bloating is caused by recent weight gain, you can use the sauna for weight loss to help reduce bloating.

Infrared sauna and bloating

Infrared saunas are a relatively new wellness craze – and there’s a lot of merit to it!

To use an infrared sauna for bloating, you should go three times a week for 30-minute sessions. Start out with five-minute sessions and build from there. Never stay in for longer than 45 minutes to avoid dehydration and more.

Infrared saunas are unique because they heat you from the inside out rather than heating the air around you. 

Infrared saunas are also the most effective out of all the saunas at detoxifying harmful chemicals. This is because of how deeply they penetrate the tissues in your body.

Steam rooms and bloating

Lastly, steam rooms are decidedly your best bet if you’re entering the sauna for bloating.

To use a steam room for bloating, you should go three times a week for 15-minute sessions. Start out with five-minute sessions and build from there. Never stay in for longer than 20 minutes to avoid dehydration and more.

Steam rooms are the best kind of sauna for bloating because they’re not too hot, but still hot enough to make you sweat.

Steam rooms also help with bloating because sometimes bloating is caused by stress. Steam rooms reduce stress, especially with regular use.