Can Saunas Help with Ear Infections?

Jesse Teske Jesse Teske

The word sauna is of Finnish origin, and it translates to snow pit or earth pit and bath or bathhouse. Saunas have been around for centuries and are praised for their outstanding health benefits. Finns tend to say sauna is a poor man’s pharmacy since it’s associated with good health and wellbeing. While some effects of saunas are well-known, others are unfamiliar to many. In this post, we’re going to discuss whether a sauna can help with ear infections. Keep reading to learn more.

Sauna health benefits

Generally speaking, the sauna is a room heated to between 158°F and 212°F (70° to 100°C). This raises skin temperature to 104°F (40°C) and thereby promotes heavy sweating. As the body attempts to cool itself, the heart rate increases.

While there are different types of saunas and how they’re heated, the health benefits are pretty much the same for all of them. The most significant health benefits of sauna include:

  • Pain relief – improved blood circulation can alleviate arthritis pain, improve the movement of joints, and decrease muscle soreness
  • Decreased stress levels – saunas promote both relaxation and blood flow, which can support feelings of wellbeing and aid stress management.
  • Psoriasis relief – some people with psoriasis experience improvement in symptoms of this skin condition when using a sauna
  • Better cardiovascular health – lower risk of cardiovascular events with sauna use is associated with stress management and improved blood circulation. Saunas may enhance heart function and lower blood pressure.
  • Asthma relief – sauna opens airways, decreases stress, and loosens phlegm, all of which can help persons with asthma.

What’s an ear infection?

Acute otitis media, also known as ear infection, is defined as an infection of the middle ear. The middle ear is an air-filled space located behind the eardrum. This small area houses tiny vibrating bones. Even though children usually develop ear infections, adults can experience this problem too. On a global level, 278 million people live with disabling hearing impairment caused by ear infections.

Ear infection results from swelling or blockage of one or both Eustachian tubes, which causes accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. Eustachian tubes, small tubes running from ears directly to the back of the throat, can become blocked due to several reasons. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Colds
  • Sinus and throat infections
  • Air pressure changes
  • Infected or swollen adenoids
  • Excess mucus

Infections of the ear (both outer and middle ear) can cause tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the sensation of ringing, buzzing, whistling, or hissing in the ears. In other words, a person with tinnitus hears these disturbing and frustrating noises, but they have no external source. Tinnitus affects 15% to 20% of people and is particularly common in older adults.

Besides ear infections, tinnitus may occur due to other causes such as:

  • Hearing loss
  • Some medications
  • Injuries to the head and neck
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Dysfunction of the Eustachian tube
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Ear bone changes
  • Blood vessel disorders
  • Loud noise exposure

How do saunas help with tinnitus?

Ear infections and tinnitus can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and have a major impact on quality of life. For that reason, many people are looking for different ways to alleviate the symptoms they experience. Sauna is dubbed helpful for persons with ear infections and tinnitus but is that true.

Actually, it is. Saunas can help with ear infections and tinnitus. Let’s take the infrared sauna as an example. One of many infrared sauna benefits is that it can open nasal passages. As a result, it promotes drainage from sinuses and thereby prevents middle ear infections.

As seen above, ear infections usually happen due to blockage in the middle ear. Steam, produced in the sauna, helps thin and loosen mucus that’s blocking your ears and thereby alleviating the infection.

Besides ear infections, saunas can tackle tinnitus. But, first, it is important to bear in mind various causes can lead to tinnitus development. While a sauna may not be helpful for persons whose tinnitus is caused by exposure to loud noise, it can be useful for other causes of ringing in the ears. For instance, saunas may lower blood pressure. This is particularly important if we bear in mind high blood pressure can cause tinnitus too.

Sweating in a sauna can “expel” excess cholesterol and salt out of the body. Heat in the sauna leads to muscle relaxation and alleviates joint pain, thus helping you stay active.

Infrared saunas are particularly effective for the management of tinnitus, even in chronic cases. One study found infrared heat was effective in delivering significant improvement in subjects with chronic tinnitus, and it decreased dizziness in those who experienced this symptom due to their ear problem.

What makes sauna beneficial for tinnitus is its positive influence on blood vessels. You see, the sauna dilates blood vessels and thereby improves circulation and relaxation of the muscular system. The latter is particularly useful since many people have tinnitus due to TMJ disorders.

The relationship between sauna and tinnitus and other ear-related conditions requires further research to elucidate all the underlying mechanisms.

So, if you have an ear infection or tinnitus, the sauna can help you deal with these problems in a natural manner. If you don’t have enough time to go to a spa or gym and spend time in the sauna there, you can always invest in at-home sauna kits that bring all the benefits of sauna directly to your home.

Conclusion

Ear infections are common in children and adults alike. They can cause a wide range of problems but also lead to tinnitus. Both problems can be tricky to manage, but saunas can help provide relief. Sauna is beneficial for ear infections due to its potential to remove blockages. At the same time, it can also reduce tinnitus by lowering blood pressure and relaxing muscles and joints. At-home saunas are a practical solution for persons who want to experience all the perks of a sauna without having to go anywhere. Keep in mind sauna doesn’t replace a doctor’s assistance. If you have ear problems, make sure to see your doctor.

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