• Prolonged soaking may lead to hyperthermia
• Read more about the hot springs risks and safety tips
The furthest thing in the mind of holidaymakers when visiting hot springs is thinking about hot springs risk and safety tips. This is mainly because these spots are known to cure some skin conditions and help alleviate joint and muscle problems, lower blood pressure, boost metabolism, relieve stress, reduce depression and anxiety, as well as cure insomnia.
These benefits have been medically proven. However, there are also risks and some things to be cautious. I have outlined the major ones below.
It is a known fact that temperatures of hot springs range from mildly warm to extremely hot that can be enough to cause second- or even third-degree burns. Before entering wild hot springs, use a thermometer and test water temperatures. In some hot springs, due to specific geological features, the temperature can changes quickly during seconds from warm to scalding.
Be careful if the springs are undeveloped and unknown to you. Use your common sense and best judgment.
Prolonged soaking may lead to hyperthermia (high body temperature) and put you at great risk for heatstroke which can occur when the body temperature increases to 104°F (40°C) or higher. Heatstroke can cause damage to the brain and other organs.
Sulfur occurs naturally in the earth and escapes in the gas form with the smell of "rotten eggs". Sulfur also exits in the form of sulfates in the hot springs water. It is also present in the form of hydrogen sulfide that evaporates into the atmosphere giving off the distinctive sulfur odor.
Though soaking in sulfur water provides many therapeutic and healing effects, in some people sulfur can trigger an allergic reaction. Talk with your health provider if you think you have an allergy to sulfur.
Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas and in a high concentration can be fatal due to the blocking of cellular respiratory enzymes that can cause cell anoxia and cell damage. Do not bath in the unknown wild hot springs, particularly, if it has a strong smell of "rotten eggs".
Hot Springs Red Spider Mites
Though barely perceptible to the naked eye, spiders are a real risk. They normally hang around hot springs and on the surface of the water. These spiders tend to look for new areas to hatch their eggs and thus cling to clothes, towels, and other personal belongings. A long as they are next to your skin, you are likely to get bitten.
Fortunately, your body’s immunity would neutralize any mild toxicity that spiders inject into your system. However, the painful itches will linger with you for a couple of weeks. The effect is worsened through scratching which makes the sores wider and more painful. The best precaution for this is to make sure that you hang your personal effects away from the ground and apply anti-itch cream as soon as you leave the water.
Another hot springs risk and the safety tips that you should be aware of is that of disease-causing infections. Ideally, most of the time, surface water especially in human-made hot springs tend to be cooler than the hot spring itself. Though it offers relief from potentially scalding, it is cool enough to support the growth of pathogens and disease-causing organisms.
Fortunately, not many deaths attributed to this. Avoid hot springs if you have deep cuts and wounds because it can be infected.
Amoeba Naegleria fowleri can survive in temperatures as high as the human body can withstand. This type of amoeba enters the body through the nasal cavity and attacks the brain tissue. The result is known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis which is a potentially lethal brain infection. This amoeba is found in hot springs, warm lakes, and warm rivers as well as in poorly maintained swimming pools. To be safe, however, it is advised that you soak in hot springs without lower the head into the water as the amoeba can enter into the system via the nose.
One of the most lauded benefits of hot springs, as well as a spa treatment, is the prevention of various cardiovascular diseases but wait, there is a paradox here. It is also proven that cardiac arrests happen more times in hot springs and during hot baths. In fact, it happens more often than it is normally reported.
A high temperature can lower blood pressure. However, the sudden temperature rise causes the drastic drop in blood pressure that, in turn, shocks the body and stresses the heart, giving way to lightheadedness, fainting, and even cardiac arrest. The same change in temperature, but gradually, causes improvement in cardiovascular function.
So what precaution should you take? It is as simple as allowing your body to first adjust to the temperature of the area. Gradually dip your legs before submerging your body in the hot springs for ten to fifteen minutes. Do not be in a hurry - take your time, and you will receive all benefits that hot mineral waters offer.
People with heart conditions should look for medical advice before entering hot tubs or hot springs.
It's not safe to soak in hot water during pregnancy. Hot water can raise body temperature to 102°F (38.9°C) for 10 minutes triggering hyperthermia. Some studies reported that hyperthermia during the first four to six weeks of pregnancy increases the risk of neural tube defects (brain and spinal cord damage) in babies or spontaneous abortion. Also, a few studies suggest a small increased risk for other birth defects such as a heart defect, an abdominal wall defect, or oral cleft. If you are pregnant and decide to go to hot springs, hot tub, or sauna, limit your session to 10 minutes or less.
As much as you are having fun, you must take great care of yourself. With these crucial hot springs risks and safety tips, you will be better placed to relax and fully enjoy your dipping experience.