I had not heard of an infrared sauna before a practitioner told me about the device. Early in the process of diagnosing my sarcoidosis, it was suggested as a way to help manage joint pain.
Luckily, my primary care physician (PCP) has an infrared sauna in his office. For a nominal fee, patients can use the sauna to see if they find it helpful. So I gave it a try.
First, I did my own research. I discovered that an infrared sauna, also called a far-infrared sauna, uses light to penetrate tissues and heat the body, while a standard sauna heats the air around it.
Potential health benefits of an infrared sauna include joint and muscle pain relief, increased flexibility, better circulation, and an overall sense of well-being.
The sauna in my PCP’s office is a two-person unit. It resembles a large closet with windows. To use it, you simply walk into the unit, close the door, and sit on one of several benches during your treatment. While I often experience claustrophobia in contained spaces, I had no problem with this at all.
I spent 30 minutes in the sauna, and it was very relaxing. I brought a book to read, which helped pass the time. Although I didn’t feel any different after a single treatment, I started to get some relief from joint pain after a few uses. Overall, I just felt better.
Visiting my PCP’s office several times a week, or as needed, wasn’t going to be an option long-term, so my husband and I explored options to buy a unit for home use. The walk-in sauna was definitely out of our price range, but a single-person unit was within reach. We opted for that version.
The unit we purchased is a tubelike structure that sits on the floor. When you use it, you slide yourself into one part of the tube and pull the second part of the tube over you.
If it sounds a bit cumbersome to use, that’s because it can be. Maneuvering around to get situated in the unit can be challenging. Storage and setup can be difficult, too. The unit is bulky and doesn’t fit anywhere very well. I wind up leaving it fully intact in a room.
I can’t easily read in this model. However, I do usually wind up falling asleep during a 15- to 20-minute session. In summer, even if I keep the air conditioning on and drink plenty of water during my treatment, I find it’s just too hot to use the sauna. It works best for me during the colder months.
Despite those minor complaints, this infrared sauna did produce the same results as its larger counterpart for me. There is also something to be said for the convenience of using the sauna at home when you need it.
I have had my infrared sauna for over 10 years now, and I paid close to $2,000 for it. It was pricey, but I have gotten my money’s worth out of it. Some models have come down in price since my purchase.
I know there are now other infrared products on the market — heating pads, collapsible sauna units, even blankets — that are far less expensive than the sauna. I can’t speak to the effectiveness of these products.
Although there is limited scientific evidence of the health benefits of far-infrared sauna use, my experience with it has been positive. Numerous health centers now rent sessions so people can give the treatment a try. If you’re interested, speak to your doctor to determine whether it’s a good choice for you.
I find that managing sarcoidosis requires utilizing a number of treatment options for the best outcome. Sessions in an infrared sauna are one aspect of my ongoing care plan.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.