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6 Health Risks Associated With Infrared Heat
Infrared heaters have increasingly been adopted in saunas, where panels or ceramic tubes produce infrared heat radiation that heats the skin. To some degree, this is a safer method of heating since it does not produce any UV radiation. That does not mean that infrared heating offers the best option for heating. In fact, it poses its own health dangers, especially in sauna environments where the heat is intense.
Infrared heaters heat up the body by radiating electromagnetic waves, which cause molecules to vibrate and release energy that heats up any object hit by these waves.
Below are some of the health risks associated with infrared heating:
It is probably the most common health problem associated with infrared heating. The burning of the skin occurs when the top layers of the skin experience excessive heating by the infrared radiation. Though these burns are not of the same nature and magnitude as those caused by UV radiation, they still cause substantial damage to the skin and can worsen over a long time of exposure. However, it is not common for one to stay in an infrared sauna until they experience burns unless they are in an unconscious state.
2. Eye Damage
Eyes are vulnerable to damage by infrared, visible light, and UV radiation upon prolonged exposure. The eyes are particularly sensitive to infrared radiation, whereby far-infrared rays lead to corneal burns and damage. What’s more, even normal exposure times may lead to eye irritation, which is not good for the eyes. However, IR rays need to be incredibly intense for eye damage to occur.
It’s a known fact that IR rays can travel through the skin layer and can penetrate deep into the body. The penetration of the IR waves usually causes vibration at the molecular level which in result generates heat. Because of this heat, the temperature of the liquid inside our eyes increases and it can result in temporary or permanent eyesight damage.
Infrared radiation is not visible to the eye, which makes it impossible for the eyes to take protective measures such as closing or blinking when met with high-intensity infrared rays. In rare cases where the eyes take in too much-infrared radiation, they can experience irreversible and permanent damage. Staying for long durations in infrared heating places such as saunas may therefore not be suitable for your eyes regardless of the age.
3. Water Loss
The occurrence of water loss upon exposure to infrared radiation is almost automatic. Since these radiations have a heating effect on the skin and body, the body begins to sweat once it is exposed the radiations. This is one of the reasons why people use saunas, but it causes the body to lose its water. Without the proper hydration of the body during these sessions, one can quickly get dehydrated since the body loses so much water through sweating.
This condition presents a danger to those whose bodies have a low water content. Whenever you are exposed to these rays, say in a sauna, it is always important to make sure that you replace the lost water by sipping on some cold water to give the body a cooling experience and at the same time restore the lost amount of water when the body is heating up.
4. Blood Pressure
Primarily, infrared radiation targets the skin. It, therefore, cause increased blood flow to the areas around the skin. This, in turn, causes lower blood pressure in other parts of the body. Therefore, blood may not reach these parts in the right quantity and may deprive them of the necessary resources and components that are supplied by the blood such as oxygen and nutrients. This may cause individuals to experience headaches and faintness.
It gets worse for those with preexisting conditions of the blood, such as the elderly who often have issues with high blood pressure. It may also be worse to those with problems of the circulatory system such as weak blood vessels. Sauna lovers with such health conditions should ensure that they seek expert advice from their doctors to avoid any further damage to the body and its functional systems.
5. Skin Problems
Again, this may take prolonged durations for it to happen, but it is never an impossibility. However, repeated exposure to infrared radiation may lead to less extensive skin problems.
Scientific works have shown that prolonged IR exposure is likely to induce inflammatory cellular infiltration and cutaneous angiogenesis.
Further, it is proven that prolonged exposure also disrupts the dermal extracellular matrix through the induction of matrix metalloproteinases. This changes the dermal structural proteins and may thereby contribute largely to premature skin aging.
6. Overheating Of The Body
Overheating of the body broadly describes the situation where the body undergoes an extremely long duration while being exposed to a heat source; in this case, the infrared radiation. In extreme cases, this could lead to heat exhaustion, which is characterized by heavy sweating and rapid pulses. Mild symptoms of body overheating could include heat cramps while the most severe ones could be heat strokes.
Again, these would take extremely long durations of exposure to infrared radiation, such as when one is unconscious in a sauna. Overheating of the body s also accompanied by faintness, dizziness, a weak pulse, fatigue, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps, and low blood pressure when one finally stands.
IR rays are the most natural source of heat. Every day it radiates from the sun is absorbed by plants, humans, animals and every living being. Infrared radiation is useful as it causes the heating of the body, and is primarily used in saunas where people indulge in sessions to relax. However, these radiations can be harmful to the body, especially with long durations of exposure. Some of the health issues associated with prolonged exposure to IR include eye damage due to irritation, water loss, skin problems, and burns.