Sauna And Steam Room Benefits For Respiration & Congestion (2024)

Long used for purposes, such as cooking food, cleaning surfaces, and powering appliances, there’s no denying the benefits of steam. When it comes to health, steam can do wonders for helping improve chest congestion.

Congested chest and stuffy nasal passages can make breathing difficult, significantly decreasing your quality of life. If you don’t want to go for prescription medications immediately and are looking for a natural alternative, consider a sauna or steam room for immediate relief.

Surprisingly, it’s just not just an old wives’ tale. Turns out, there’s actual science behind it. Keep reading ahead to learn more about the benefits of saunas and steam rooms and how they might help improve your respiration!

Causes of Respiratory Issues/Congestion

Following are some of the most common causes of respiratory issues and congestion:

Viral or bacterial infections such as the common cold, flu, or pneumonia

From a pounding headache to an alternating stuffy and runny nose and a sore throat, we’re well familiar with the symptoms of the common cold.

WebMD explains that the common cold often leads to phlegmy airway and chest congestion. Respiratory issues like flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia also generally come with congestion.

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Allergies to pollen, dust, pet dander, or other irritants

Environmental and seasonal allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites can lead to several respiratory reactions, such as increased mucus production to help protect your airways.

Besides allergens, irritants like cigarette and vape smoke, perfumes, and the smell of chemicals like paint can also ramp up your mucus production, leading to chest congestion.

Chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, or bronchitis

Typically caused by prolonged exposure to airborne irritants, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, comes with a host of issues like inflammation and increased mucus production. Other than COPD, respiratory conditions like asthma and cystic fibrosis can also lead to chest congestion.

Besides the factors mentioned above, the following factors can also cause chest congestion:

  • Exposure to air pollution or smoke

  • Sinusitis or other sinus-related issues

  • Deviated septum or other structural problems in the nose or airways

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy

  • Certain medications or drug use

  • Stress, anxiety, or other emotional factors that can affect breathing

  • Exposure to extreme temperatures or weather changes

Steam Room Benefits for Respiratory Health

While saunas and steam rooms are often thought of as relaxation spaces or luxury amenities in spas and fitness centers, they offer several health benefits.

Following are some of the ways steam rooms can help improve your respiratory health:

Improved Respiratory Function

When it comes to respiratory health, it’s no secret that the air you breathe plays a significant role. When you're constantly exposed to environmental pollutants like pollen, dust mites, mold, and viruses (read: Corona), your respiratory function can easily get compromised.

Studies show that these airborne pollutants can irritate the delicate tissues of your respiratory system, leading to inflammation, congestion, and several respiratory illnesses — the likes of asthma, tuberculosis, COPD, and lung cancer.

And while we hate to admit it, our furry friends are also partly to blame. Mayo Clinic explains that animal dander, saliva, and fur can cause dermatitis and hives and even potentially exacerbate pre-existing respiratory issues like asthma, making it difficult for you to breathe.

The good news is that steam rooms can help fight back against these airborne irritants. Here’s how:

Research shows that as you breathe in the warm, moist air, it penetrates deep inside your lungs, loosening mucus and flushing out other debris that might have been clogging your airways, making it easier for you to breathe and improving your overall respiratory function.

So the next time you struggle to catch your breath with watery eyes and a runny nose, consider getting steam room therapy. You'll be amazed at how better you feel after a single session.

Increases Oxygenation

Ever felt like you're suffocating in a stuffy, poorly- ventilated room? Well, it’s not just in your head. This suffocating feeling means you might not be getting enough oxygen.

Limited oxygenation, aka hypoxia, can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, and even damage to vital organs.

The solution? Steam room therapy. You can help boost your body's oxygenation by spending time in a steam room. Use a dedicated steam room, transform your own bathroom into one with a steam shower, or just use a traditional sauna and pour water over the rocks to make steam. Studies prove that steam rooms can increase the partial pressure of oxygen (pO2) in your blood, significantly improving respiratory health.

The heat emanating from a steam room also helps dilate your blood vessels. Research shows this can decrease hemoglobin binding capacity, allowing more oxygen to reach your organs and tissues. This can lead to improved cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and respiratory function.

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Reduced Inflammation and Swelling

From nasal congestion and sore throats to coughing and wheezing, respiratory inflammation can significantly decrease your quality of life.

While there are many ways to reduce inflammation, one of the simplest ways is by spending time in a steam room.

When you inhale steam, the heat and moisture help soothe bronchial passages and loosen the mucus, making it easier to cough up the phlegm. Think of it as a power wash for your respiratory system!

A steam room can also reduce inflammation by helping your body relax. Research shows that when stressed out, your immune system works harder than average to control the elevated cortisol levels. These activated stress pathways can exacerbate inflammatory responses.

Studies suggest that exposure to heat in a steam room can help your body relax by decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure, which can help reduce your stress hormones, minimizing the symptoms of inflammation.

Sauna and Steam Room Benefits for Congestion Relief

There's nothing worse than a cold or congestion that just won't seem to go away. If you have tried everything from chicken soup to over-the-counter medications, but nothing seems to help, perhaps it's time for a different approach — one that combines a sauna and steam.

Following are some of the benefits you can expect from a steam sauna or steam room:

Clear Nasal Passages

A steam room can help you clear up even the worst case of congestion. Steam saunas are designed to create a moist environment, which helps loosen up the mucus in your lungs and nasal passages, as per Medical News Today.

Increase Lung Capacity

Besides providing relief from congestion, the health benefits of saunas also include improving your lung capacity.

When you're exposed to the hot temperatures and moist air of a sauna, your body's response is to breathe deeper and faster to cool itself down.

Research shows that this makes your diaphragm contract and expands more than usual, strengthening the muscles in this area and ultimately expanding your lung capacity and improving your overall respiratory function.

Alleviate Seasonal Allergies

When you suffer from seasonal allergies, your body produces histamines in response to allergens such as pollen, dust, and mold.

Histamines are chemicals that cause inflammation in your nasal passages, resulting in common allergy symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and runny nose.

If you’re tired of using over-the-counter medications, nasal sprays, and allergy drops, consider hopping in the steam room. Sauna steam induces an artificial fever by raising the body's core temperature, stimulating your immune system to produce more white blood cells, including neutrophils.

These specialized immune cells help fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses while enhancing your body's ability to repair damaged tissue.

In fact, studies have found that regular sauna bathing can help strengthen your immune system and reduce the frequency and duration of colds by 30%.

Creating Steam in a Traditional Sauna

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Creating steam in your sauna is pretty simple, especially with an electric sauna like Almost Heaven Rainelle. Electric saunas are super convenient; all you need to do is flick on the switch of the electric heater and regulate the temperature using a remote controller.

Once you turn on the switch, wait until the sauna stones on the heater sufficiently heat the space. Once the sauna is heated to your preferred level, fill a bucket with water and ladle it on the rocks to create steam bursts. That’s just about it!

Just make sure to wash the sauna rocks first to remove any dust particles. You can also consider adding a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus, anise, or peppermint, which have been scientifically proven for their efficacy in treating respiratory tract diseases.


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Sauna And Steam Room Benefits For Respiration & Congestion (2024)
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