Last updated: March 29, 2021 at 13:09 pm
Hot tubs feel wonderful. The warm water…the bubbles…the massaging feeling, it’s bliss. When you’re soaking in your tub, it can be tempting to lie there, relax and drift away.
Can doing this be dangerous, though?
Can you spend too long in a hot tub? If so, what is a safe length of time and does it vary from person to person? Read on to find out.
- 1 Official Guidelines
- 2 6 Factors to Determine How Long to Be in a Hot Tub
- 3 Symptoms You’ve Been In a Hot Tub Too Long
- 4 In Conclusion
All manufacturers have the same guidelines, and they state you should stay in a hot tub for only 15 to 30 minutes up to a maximum of 45 to 60 minutes.
This does depend on several factors, including age, gender, health conditions, and water temperature. Let’s look at each of these factors in more detail.
6 Factors to Determine How Long to Be in a Hot Tub
1. Water Temperature
If you’re new to hot tubs, you may decide to start at a lower temperature of 98°F/36.7°C. It’s less of a risk as it’s close to your body’s temperature. If you’re happy to keep your tub at this heat, then 30 minutes or even a little more is safe if you are otherwise fit and healthy. Do be sure to drink lots of water to rehydrate yourself, though and get out immediately if you start to feel unwell.
Once you’re accustomed to using your hot tub, or if it’s getting colder outside, you might increase the temperature to 100ºF/37.7ºC. This temperature is the maximum recommended for individuals with no medical issues. At this temperature, you should not exceed 30 minutes. Drinking cold water to stay hydrated is even more important, and you should be alert for any signs of illness such as burning, dizziness or feeling too hot.
If you’re someone who loves the heat, you may increase your hot tub to its maximum heat, which is 104ºF/40ºC. At this temperature, you should stay in the tub for a maximum of 15 minutes. The reason is by sitting in water that is significantly above your core body temperature you are cooking yourself.
The heat raises your internal body temperature, and the effect is the same as having a fever caused by illness. If your body becomes too warm, your organs cannot function properly and could be damaged.
I know this sounds alarming, and it’s unlikely to happen if you stay in the tub a few minutes too long. Heatstroke and dehydration are genuine risks, and if you faint while in the hot tub, drowning and heat exhaustion are also possible. If your hot tub is set at this temperature, never stay in longer than 15 minutes.
2. Hot Weather = Hot Body
As well as the temperature of the water, you should also consider the air temperature. If it’s a warm day, the ambient temperature will be heating your body up already. This means the effect of the hot water in the hot tub could increase your core temperature more quickly than usual.
At the other end of the thermometer, if it’s cold outside, you should be careful getting out of the tub. When you step out of the warm water into the cold air, your body temperature could drop very suddenly. This can lead to you feeling dizzy and even fainting.
3. Your Position Within the Water
Most hot tubs have seats positioned on different levels so you can be submerged to your waist or all the way up to your neck. Sitting with your whole body covered is the most dangerous position as your body can heat up much faster.
It is recommended you don’t spend more than 15 minutes in this position, especially at higher temperatures. If you want to stay in the tub longer, spend some time in the higher seats. Exposing your torso to the air will help you to cool down and stay at a safe temperature.
4. Age is a Major Factor
Most healthy adults can stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines and be fine in a hot tub. If you take breaks, move between depth, and stay hydrated, you may even be able to stay in longer.
Children’s bodies are not as good at regulating their body temperature as adults are. Children should only stay in 104ºF water for 5 minutes and no more than 15 minutes at any other temperature. It’s also best if they remain on the higher seats and don’t submerge themselves fully. Kids tend to love hot tubs and won’t be conscious of the fact they’ve been in for too long. They should be supervised at all times while they’re in the tub, not just due to concerns about the heat but also the risk of drowning.
5. Overall Health and Medical Conditions
Your overall health has one of the most significant impacts on whether it’s safe to use a hot tub, especially for longer periods. If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance your body temperature is already higher than normal. It’s This means you’ll be more susceptible to the heat in a hot tub.
It increases the chances of you experiencing nausea, dizziness, and fainting spells. If you’re using a hot tub while pregnant, take regular breaks out of the tub and try to avoid being fully submerged for long.
Diabetics, people who have had strokes, people with heart conditions, those with blood pressure issues, and the elderly may all suffer problems like pregnant women when using a hot tub. If you have any concerns at all, consult your doctor before you go for a dip. Once you’re in, you should consider how you’re feeling throughout and leave the tub immediately if you start to suffer ill effects.
6. Gender (Believe It or Not)
It may sound strange but anecdotal evidence suggests that women handle high temperatures better than men do. Whether this is due to their genetic makeup or some other factor isn’t clear.
Just be aware that if you’re in a mixed group, the women may be able to stay in longer. Don’t put your health at risk by trying to stay in the tub for the same length of time.
Symptoms You’ve Been In a Hot Tub Too Long
There are several symptoms that will let you know your body is not handling the heat well. If you start to experience any of them, leave the hot tub immediately and cool down while sipping water to rehydrate yourself.
- Feeling dehydrated or like you’re overheating. The most recognisable symptom of dehydration is being thirsty. As the condition gets worse, you may become agitated, suffer from confusion, or experience dizziness, headaches, nausea, loss of energy. If you ignore these symptoms, you could lose consciousness.
- Your blood pressure could drop. If it does your heartbeat will increase to make up for it. You may become aware of it pumping harder than usual, or you could feel a little out of breath.
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed. Again, this is due to blood pressure issues. Be extra careful getting out of your tub, as going from very warm water straight into the cooler air means you will be at risk of losing your balance and falling or slipping over.
- Nausea and vomiting. As well as being a symptom of dehydration, some people feel nausea and throw up if they stay in the tub for too long. There is more chance of this if you eat soon before getting in the tub. Try to give yourself time for your food to settle before you go for a dip!
- Your skin feels like it’s burning. If you set your hot tub to the correct temperature this shouldn’t be an problem. If you have skin that is either sensitive or broken then skin irritation is a possibility. Just as with sunburn, it may feel mildly irritating at the time but the next day it will feel progressively worse. Children are also sensitive to cleaning chemicals and this is another reason to limit their use of the tub.
- This one is just for men but staying too long in the tub could actually causes issues with your fertility. The reason males have their sexual organs outside their bodies is because even normal body temperature can damage your sperm. Spending long periods in a hot tub, especially at the highest temperatures can permanently affect your ability to have children. Stay in the tub for shorter periods and try turning the temperature down to avoid this risk.
A hot tub can feel like the ultimate luxury, but they must be used with caution. If you stay in too long at best you may cause yourself to feel ill for a while or suffer minor injuries.
At worst you could affect your fertility, suffer from heatstroke, or injure yourself more seriously by passing out. Pay close attention to how long you’ve been in the tub, adjust your position and make sure to drink lots of water.
If you begin to feel ill get out immediately and if it doesn’t improve seek medical advice.
Don’t worry too much though, most people can enjoy a hot tub with no ill effects whatsoever. Be smart and you’ll be happy and relaxed in no time.