©1998 Mikkel Aaland All Rights Reserved
Accidents in the sweat bath are rare and can usually be attributed
to a lapse of common sense. The most usual mishaps are hot stove
burns or bruises from a slip on a wet floor or bench. Mind your
footing and see that good duckboards and a guard rail are installed.
Remove jewelry and glasses before entering the sweat room. Metal
gets burning hot, and heat causes capillaries and skin to swell
making rings and tight bracelets constricting. Contact lenses
may dry and provoke eye irritationpop them out before sweat bathing.
Glassware, bottles, or cupsdon't belong in the bathing area.
Too strong a loyly can scorch skin and lungs. Go easy with the dipper.
Eating before sweat bathing puts a strain on the circulatory
system. As before swimming, wait an hour or two after a large
meal before entering a sweat bath. Also, it is best not to bathe
on an empty stomach. Sweat bathing, like any exercise, uses energy
and some people in a depleted condition may experience nausea
or even fainting. Settle for lower temperatures and shorter bathing
sessions. It is also sensible to avoid sweat bathing when you
are physically exhausted or after a long illness. (After a strenuous
two-day drive to Minneapolis, I hopped into a YMCA sauna and nearly
passed out. This wouldn't have happened if I had given myself
a few hours rest beforehand.) Mental exhaustion is not included
in this caution. Finnish students traditionally recuperate in
the sauna after the year's final exam.
Everyone reacts differently to heat. Learn your limits by beginning
with lower temperatures and raising them gradually. Let your body
tell you when it wants outdon't force it to endure uncomfortable
heat. The body adapts with repeated exposure to heat. Sweat will
flow more readily and the cardiovascular system functions and
cools more efficiently.
People not acclimated to heat may feel nauseous or faint. Nose
bleeds or other injury to blood vessels may also occur. If treated
properly there is little danger. Nausea is induced by a lack of
blood to the parasympathetic nervous system and is a sign of impending
fainting. This can result from bathing on an empty stomach when
your blood sugar is low. A poorly vented sweat room can also cause
nausea. Leave the room if you feel nauseous, lie down and have
someone bring you fruit juice. Its sugar will help dispel your
Fainting may also occur if you stand up abruptly in the sweat
room. Blood vessels are relaxed during bathing and when you stand
suddenly, blood rushed down, depriving the head of blood. Move
slowly in the sweat room.
Injury to blood vessels sometimes occurs with the sudden dilation
of weak vein walls. If this happens, stanch the bleeding with
a compress, leave the sweat room and lie down. Next time, try
IF YOU SUFFER FROM A SERIOUS ILLNESS OR HAVE AN ACUTE HEART, CIRCULATORY
OR RESPIRATORY PROBLEM, CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE SWEAT BATHING.
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