Scientists studying the health benefits of saunas have discovered that they may even provide tinnitus relief. Here’s why they think it works…
Up in chilly Finland, the sauna has been a central fixture in homes and communities for thousands of years. Harvard Medical School featured a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) detailing sauna health benefits the Finns always suspected, but science is just now starting to understand. One of the biggest surprises is that one of the health benefits of saunas may be tinnitus relief.
What are the health benefits of saunas?
People who have used a sauna after a hard workout know just how the intense, 175-degree heat can relieve sore, tight muscles and joints. In addition to this obvious benefit, scientists discovered that saunas have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health.
The JAMA report detailed a 20-year study by the University of Eastern Finland that followed 2,300 middle-aged Finnish men. The men were divided into three separate groups according to how often they used the sauna. The average sauna visit lasted about 14 minutes, but the number of visits per week varied.
The scientists found that the men who visited two to three times weekly lived longer than the men who only went once a week. Regular saunas seemed to reduce stroke and cardiovascular disease deaths specifically. The short-term high heat improved the men’s blood vessels while also lowering their blood pressure and cellular inflammation. Similar studies verify these benefits for both men and women, and have even shown a reduction in dementia onset.
But the question remains…
How is tinnitus relief connected to sauna health benefits?
Understand that tinnitus is a symptom that can have various causes: prolonged exposure to noise, ear infections, earwax buildup, etc. Tinnitus also frequently accompanies high blood pressure. Tinnitus can occur when middle ear blood flow is hampered – a common problem for people with high blood pressure.
So, scientists think that saunas may help with tinnitus relief in the same way. If you find the sauna relaxing, it can also help lower your blood pressure overall, which has been associated with reduced tinnitus symptoms. More targeted studies are needed, but the current research holds promise for tinnitus sufferers.
Why should I use a sauna?
Saunas provide health benefits to the body that may provide tinnitus relief and overall better health including:
- Sweating helps get rid of excess cholesterol and salt.
- The heat relaxes muscles and eases joint pain, helping people stay active.
- Saunas relieve stress and improve sleep quality.
- Sauna heat boosts the immune system by generating white blood cells faster.
- Enjoying the sauna with friends and family boosts social connections that improve overall mental and emotional health. (In Finland it’s culturally unacceptable to discuss negative or controversial topics in the sauna – conversation is calm and uplifting!)
Try safely enjoying a post-workout sauna, or a stress-relief sauna a few times a week and you may also find tinnitus relief!
Finding a local sauna
Many gyms, pools, YMCAs, senior centers, and community centers have a sauna room, so call and ask about them. If your town doesn’t have one, this might be a great home improvement project to consider.
6 urgent sauna safety tips
The high heat makes sauna safety a real issue – and some people with serious health concerns should not use the sauna. So, please ask your doctor before trying it, and always follow these sauna safety practices:
- Stay well hydrated – drink plenty of water before you get in, and take a bottle of water with you so you can drink freely whenever you feel thirsty!
- Do not sauna alone – go with a friend!
- Know where the emergency shut-off is (and make sure to include one if you’re adding a sauna during a home remodeling project).
- If you feel nauseated or faint, get out of the sauna.
- Never drink alcohol before going into the sauna – and never use the sauna if you’re intoxicated.
- Don’t go straight for the highest temperature right away. Work your way up gradually.
Again, it’s always important to discuss any new health endeavor with your doctor, so if you want to enjoy the health benefits of saunas, talk with your doctor and your hearing specialist first to find out if you have any special precautions, or if it might provide you with welcome tinnitus relief!