If you have asthma, your airways swell and become narrow, making breathing more difficult. Common signs of asthma, according to MayoClinic.com, include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. At its worst, asthma can interfere with your day-to-day activities, and can even put you at risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack.
Saunas and steam rooms may benefit you if you suffer from asthma, but always consult with your doctor before spending time in either if you have asthma.
According to a study published in the 1987/88 medical journal "Clinical Ecology," Dr. Jozef Krop, a pioneer in sauna therapy, cured a teenage girl of her asthma through sauna therapy. She had been through years of failed treatments from respiratory specialists that had prescribed steroids, which didn't help. “Her symptoms did not clear with environmental control, immunotherapy or anti-candida treatment,” says the report. “They cleared after sauna therapy.”
Researchers at the University of Munich’s Institute of Medical Balneology and Climatology performed a series of tests between 1983 and 1986 to determine the effect of saunas and steam rooms on the human body. They found that steam baths can help upper respiratory problems and can improve asthma symptoms, in addition to bronchitis and coughing, by loosening mucus and phlegm and soothing sore throat.
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Both saunas and steam rooms help open your airways and improve breathing, says Holistic Online, adding that some asthma sufferers prefer the moist heat of a steam room to that of a sauna. Both help open the airways, and eliminate toxins through the skin.
Additionally, both saunas and steam rooms can help you de-stress and relax. Stress is a common asthma trigger, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Both stress and anxiety can make you feel shortness of breath and can worsen your asthma symptoms. Sitting in a sauna or steam room can help you manage stress.
Jessica Lyons is an award-winning journalist based in Santa Cruz, Calif., who has been writing and editing since 1998. She covers environmental issues and green technologies, travel, fashion, food and wine for a variety of local and national publications including "American Spa Magazine," "Solar Novus Today," "Wine Country This Week" and "Monterey County Weekly."