Hot, Steamy Baths: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Head Health Nutter on February 28, 2008

Soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts, scented oils and candles is one of my weekly pleasures. It is a great way to relax while helping your body detox as it raises your core temperature, dilates your blood vessels, aids blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and draws contaminants out through your pores, along with many other benefits.

But there are just as many health dangers to hot baths as there are bonuses. At the risk of getting too personal, I’d like to share a recent traumatic experience with a cleansing hot bath so that others are aware of the dangers and can take the necessary precautions.

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This post was updated with photos on November 4, 2009. It took me awhile to get over myself before publishing them. :)

My Bath Tub Trauma

Normally, Sundays are my bath night so I can wind down the weekend and gear up for the week ahead. But this week was different. The weekend was exceptionally busy and by Tuesday morning, I woke up with a sore throat. I called in sick so that I could rest, give my immune system a chance to attack the virus and escape the otherwise inevitable cold. A cold would certainly slow me down – the last thing I needed or wanted.

Drinking plenty of liquids and grabbing lots of sleep, the afternoon brought an impulse to have a hot, steamy bath with Epsoms salts. I thought, “This’ll take care of any nasty cold virus; I’ll flush it out!”

The bath was heaven and a half an hour later I stood to get out…and fainted! I was lucky: my face broke my fall. It could have been much worse since we have a narrow bathroom and I missed hitting my head on the porcelain sink, toilet and heat register.

When I woke, which was only seconds later, I was on the floor. I lifted myself up slightly, blinked, and blood started falling to the floor in big drops. Disoriented, I stood and looked in the mirror and sure enough, I was bleeding through my mouth and nose. Grabbing a clean facecloth, I soaked it, held it to my face and stumbled into the living room to grab the phone.

I had no thought processes at this point, by the way. I was confused, I couldn’t get a handle on what happened, and all I knew was that I needed help. It was pure instinct that led me to grab the phone and call my hubby on his cell. I got out, “I need your help. I’ve fallen.” And before he had a chance to respond, I was out for the count again.

He was able to call 911 and told them our address before I awoke and called him again. As I tried to talk to my Love (he spoke to both 911 and me at the same time), I staggered around, naked, dazed and confused, attempting to figure out how to get dressed. I managed to get downstairs, unlock the door and greet the E.M.S. guys with clothes and with a VERY crooked smile on.

An ambulance ride over to St. Joe’s Emergency, an ECG (electrocardiogram), blood work and 7 hours in the Emergency and we’re still clueless to exactly how it all happened. My face is smooshed in. My nose escaped being broken but it makes a funny crinkly sound now, and it’s bruised and swollen. My lips, the same and split open.

Day after accident This photo was taken the day after the accident. I was on the phone with my Mom getting the TLC I needed. :) By the way, my nose is usually NOT that big.

I’ve been singing, “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” in my head since because they are what took the brunt of my fall. You might not be able to tell from the picture but they were in the middle of my mouth.

At least until $800 worth of oral surgery (so far) and a lot of pain as the dental surgeon (thank you, Dr. Pain!) reset them by pushing them back into their sockets. Two of my front teeth are chipped and Dr. Pain used a metal splint and wired the front four teeth together for stability while they heal.

Day 3 after accident Here’s me after oral surgery and a trip to my dentist for repairs to the chipped teeth, 3 days after the accident. Much better, wouldn’t you say?

Health professionals suggest hot baths may be dangerous for individuals suffering from obesity or having a medical history of heart disease, low or high blood pressure, circulatory system problems, diabetes or pregnant women and their fetuses. 

So, this bath tub episode of mine is a complete mystery. I JUST had a physical examination on Saturday with my Naturopathic Doctor and I’m in top physical condition (my blood pressure was perfect). I’ve never fainted before and am a bath-time master. Now, the bath was hotter than usual and I did a bunch of abdominal exercises before I got up. Exercise has the same effects on the body as hot baths so perhaps I lowered my blood pressure double-time and coupled with getting up too fast…

I have an appointment with my G.P. tomorrow for more tests to make sure it was the circumstances and not an underlying health problem.

Will I ever enjoy another hot bath? Certainly! The benefits of baths far outweigh the slight possibility of this ever happening again. Do I recommend hot, steamy baths for others? Definitely for healthy people! Just do what my friend Denise suggests: pull the plug and pour cold water in to gradually bring your core temperature down. And get up slowly.

Man, what a way to learn a lesson! Please, please, please be careful with your bath-time fun!

Did you enjoy this post? You may also like to read about another accident I had more recently, “My Buns of Steel vs. An Automobile (or How Important is Fitness to Survival?)”

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