“Nasal congestion” seems to be simple to understand: you’ve got a stuffed nose that needs to be unblocked. However, anyone affected by chronic nasal congestion will tell you that it’s not that simple:
These people might have a daily routine to keep their nose open, use nasal spray, and avoid certain areas that trigger them. In the worst of cases, you might not be able to easily go outside at all or need to avoid certain triggers that give you problems for days.
So that’s why I explore the topic of using a sauna for congestion of the nose today. I’ll first explain the basics of nasal congestion - telling you why many reasons for the condition exist - and then I give you the sauna nasal congestion fix.
So let’s start with the basics:
Sauna For Congestion Of The Nose: A Quick And Easy Tool
Nasal congestion is a symptom that’s often associated with the so-called “allergic rhinitis”. However, many different reasons to get a congested nose exist and allergies are by no means the only reason (1, 2; 3). For instance, everyone exposed to lots of polluted air will get a congested nose, but, the cause isn’t an allergy in that case. Viral infections and chronic inflammation (sinusitus) are two other reasons why people have a congested nose.
And, on its own, nasal congestion doesn’t look that bad. But, when you take the inability to breathe into account, and continuous sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation because of nasal congestion, the story changes.
Many people use different medications and tools for the reasons listed above. Anti-allergic medication and tools are commonly used, for instance, as is prescription medication to dilate the nose and nasal dilation devices. In extreme cases, surgical solutions can be applied.
Even though at face value nasal congestion seems really simplistic, there are a lot of different biological agents interacting, such as brain signalling compounds (e.g. “histamine”), markers of inflammation, different interacting cell types, and much more.
So, depending on the cause of your problems, your environment, your genetic makeup, and other factors, your sigus congestion should be fixed or not. The caveat that I’ll therefore include in this blog post is that saunas are not a universal solution for sinus congestion.
Even though a sauna may open up your airways, if you’re allergic to pollen, the problem will probably return the next morning when you’re outside during springtime. However, if you’ve got an incorrect breathing pattern and a congested nose because of mouth breathing, the dynamic would be very different. In that case, fixing the underlying issue with the aid of a sauna would work.
So, now that I’ve explained the basics about nasal congestion, let’s explore the role of saunas:
Does Sauna Help With Congestion? Using The Sauna Nasal Congestion Fix
So, after my short introduction on nasal congestion, let’s answer the question as to whether “is sauna good for sinus congestion”. I’ll show you why the sauna will fix the issue in some instances and how to assure you’re maximising your results.
Fortunately, quite a few studies have been carried out on the relationship between infrared saunas and nasal congestion (4; 5, 6, 7).
For allergic rhinitis, right now, the evidence suggest that you can have significant improvements in symptoms even within a week. By exposing yourself to far infrared light - for which an infrared sauna is ideal - symptoms such as sneezing, a leaky or stuffed nose, ithcing in the nose and eyes, all go down. No side-effects were found with 40 minutes of exposure per day.
Another study investigated a herbal steam bath under different conditions and generally found the same improvements.
However, one study investigating the effects on a common cold showed no improvements in symptoms.
Some studies also suggest that the nervous system benefits of spending time inside a sauna translate into less nasal congestion problems. Spending time inside an infrared sauna helps what is called your “autonomous nervous system” relax, thereby, potentially countering congestion of the nose. Some shorter-term studies contradict this effect though, and more research is needed (8, 9; 10).
Overall, the most important message is to experiment with using saunas. Studies do show that using a sauna for nasal congestion is smart.
But, with many complicated matters, it’s impossible to really understand how you’re affected without knowing a lot more about you. If your genetic makeup in relation to your diet is the cause of the problems, then using a sauna will have less effect. If your nose just needs a little help sometimes driving off buildup after an immunological reaction, then the results will be totally different.
Fortunately, there’s a lot more good news that I need to share with you, on health issues that are often intertwined with nasal congestion:
Sauna For Chest Congestion: Lowering Overall Respiratory Disease Risk, Upgrading Your Sessions With Salt Therapy & More
Theoretically, using an infrared sauna for chest congestion will already help you. I’ve written very extensive blog posts in the past on how spending time inside a sauna will help keep your airways healthier.
I’ve written about using an infrared sauna for pneumonia, for instance, and for countering asthma.
To quickly summarise these effects here:
By spending more time inside a sauna, you’re dramatically lowering your risk of getting pneumonia according to several high-quality studies (8, 9, 10). The amount of time you spend in a sauna and the number of sessions per week is directly proportional to pneumonia risk. The same is true for asthma - infrared saunas are especially helpful on several different levels to counter the condition.
However, most of these studies have been carried out on prevention, not fixing an active symptom like chest congestion. “Chest congestion”, here, is defined as mucus buildup in the lower airways, and, is actually interrelated with problems such as sinus congestion, asthma, allergies, and coughing.
One important fact to keep in mind is that saunas also lower your overall inflammation levels if they’re chronically high. As a result, your risk of getting respiratory diseases goes down, which is interrelated in many cases with chest congestion once again (11, 12, 13).
Overall, with regard to the lower airways, studies also show that in general, spending time inside a sauna doesn’t cause problems with the lungs (14/). So, if you’ve got chest congestion you should be able to safely exposure yourself. Just make sure that you always consult your physician beforehand and if you ever feel not well inside a sauna, end the session.
But there’s more:
Salt Therapy For Nasal Congestion
Salt therapy is a great addon to your infrared sauna sessions for this specific end goal.
Salt therapy essentially is heated salt that’s emitted into the air. That salt then travels through your nose, upper airways and lower airways into your lungs. I’ve written a very extensive blog post on salt therapy and its benefits so if you’d like to learn more I recommend checking it out.
Specifically, the salts affect the mucus across your entire airways (11; 12; 13, 14; 15).
As a result, nasal breathing becomes much easier. The absence of nasal breathing is very stressful on the body because you’re creating a fight and flight response. You should normally only be breathing through your mouth during intense exercise - at other times, nasal breathing is recommended.
To add salt therapy to your sessions, we’ve developed the Clearlight HALOONE Salt Therapy® unit. That HALOONE allows you to effortlessly add salt therapy to your infrared sauna sessions. You only have to put in a cartridge and activate the unit and you can enjoy the benefits.
Then, there’s one more intervention I need to make you aware of:
Red Light Therapy And Nasal Congestion
Although I don’t want to venture into this topic too deep, you can also use red light therapy for countering congestion (16; 17; 18, 19, 20, 21, 22). We offer a simple but state of the art Clearlight® Light Therapy Tower that you can add to your sauna for even more benefits. The benefits of the sauna and red light therapy are independent for your nose and sinuses, and the effects stack. I.e., by combining red light therapy and an infrared sauna, you double the benefits.
All symptoms improve through red light therapy. Air flow improves while airway resistance decreases, massively improving your breathing ability. Most people already notice benefits after one to a few sessions, so the therapy can be used if problems arise. In studies, red light therapy works equally as well as prescription medication (such as anti histamines) and nasal sprays. The same is true for comparing red light therapy and acupuncture.
Conclusion: Does A Sauna Help Sinus Congestion?
So, the answer as to whether “does a sauna help with congestion” can certainly be answered with “yes”.
Preliminary research shows a sauna for sinus congestion is an excellent tool. If you combine saunas with salt therapy and with red light therapy, your results will improve even further. But, if you ask, “is a sauna good for sinus congestion”, the answer is a resounding “yes”.