Are whirlpools and saunas really safe?
Not since "Body Heat" have so many people been so intentionally overheated: Seems that millions enjoy dipping into steamy communal waters or baking in saunas. The benefits are as obvious as the beads of sweat rolling down your face: deep tissue relaxation and stress reduction. What's not so obvious are the potential risks. So here are some tips on how to make sure your next experience will be good and good for you.
Hit the right temperature. Saunas are safest at 140 F; whirlpools/hot tubs at 100 F -- but make sure you get out before you feel woozy. Higher temps or too-long stays can trigger everything from falling blood pressure to dehydration. Anyone with uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart disease should opt out entirely, as should pregnant women. Saunas can trigger fetal damage, and hot tubs with water above 102 F are equally hazardous, especially in the first trimester. And guys, if you're trying to conceive, even 5 minutes in that kind of heat will KO many swimmers.
Stay alert. Heat plus alcohol or medications (not to mention recreational drugs) don't mix. You could fall asleep or slip underwater! It happens.
Keep it clean. In public facilities you typically can gauge purity by the clarity of the water (good filtration) and by asking about disinfectant and pH testing procedures. The good news: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention info shows that out of 5 million public/private pools and hot tubs, there were only 13 reported outbreaks of infectious diseases. So relax. Really. Relax.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.