The sauna and alcohol

Ann Clin Res. 1988;20(4):287-91.


Alcohol-related minor accidents such as sprains and burns are common in sauna, but more serious accidents also take place--head contusions, heat stroke after passing out in sauna and drownings while swimming. The exact number of these accidents is not known, but in Finland (population 4.8 million) the consumption of alcohol has been estimated to be a contributing factor in some 20 to 25 sauna-related deaths every year. The scientific information on the interaction of sauna and alcohol on human physiology is totally lacking. Thus our discussion on the physiological and medical consequences of this interaction relies merely on presumptions. Ingestion of large amounts of alcohol while sauna bathing may affect the body's ability to maintain blood pressure. In particular, the risk of an orthostatic hypotensive reaction is increased with concomitant faintings and accidents. Alcohol intoxication and particularly the hangover phase exposes a person to cardiac arrhythmias, and sauna may further increase the arrhythmia-risk due to enhanced adrenergic activity. Sauna bathing and heavy drinking, and also sauna bathing during hangover phase undoubtedly create real health risks.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Death, Sudden / etiology
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Steam Bath*