The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Acute tubular necrosis, allergies, angina pectoris, animal bites, anxiety, ascites, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, back muscle strengthening, bacterial infections, balance disorders, blood clot prevention, blood detoxification, blood flow enhancement, body tone improvement, bowel function improvement, bronchitis, cancer, candidiasis, chronic pain, colitis, constipation, contusions, cough, Crohn's disease, cystitis, dental surgery adjunct, depression, digestion disorders, eczema, energy level enhancement, fibromyalgia, gallbladder disorders, gastric acid reduction, fatigue, fever reduction, food poisoning, fractures, glomerulonephritis, headache, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormonal disorders, Huntington's disease, immune system stimulation, inflammation, influenza, insect bites, intestinal motility disorders, kidney infection (pyelonephritis), kidney stones, laryngitis, liver disorders, low blood pressure, lung diseases, lymphatic disorders, menstrual cramps, mucositis, mucus production enhancement, multiple sclerosis (MS), muscle atrophy, musculoskeletal injuries, neurologic disorders, otitis media (ear infection), paralysis, parasitic infections, peptic ulcer disease, peripheral edema (leg swelling from fluid accumulation), peritonitis (abdominal wall irritation), polio, pleurisy (inflammation of the pleural lining around the lung), post-operative recovery, pregnancy preparation, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), prostatitis, psychiatric disorders, rash, relaxation, sciatica, scleroderma, sepsis, sinus pain, sleep enhancement, soft tissue injuries, sore muscles, sore throat, sprains, stiff muscles, tinnitus, tired eyes, toothache, trigeminal neuralgia, tuberculosis, urinary tract infection, vaginitis, viral infections, vocal cord disorders, well-being.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
The safety of various hydrotherapy techniques is not well studied.
Sudden or prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures in baths, wraps, saunas, or other forms of hydrotherapy should be avoided, particularly in patients with heart disease, lung disease, or during pregnancy. Warm temperature therapies can cause dehydration or low blood sodium levels, and adequate hydration and electrolyte intake should be maintained. Cold temperatures may worsen symptoms in patients with Raynaud's disease, chilblains, acrocyanosis, or erythrocyanosis.
The temperature of water should always be carefully monitored, particularly when treating patients with impaired temperature sensitivity, such as neuropathy. High temperatures or hydrotherapy involving electrical currents should be avoided in patients with implanted medical devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, or hepatic (liver) infusion pumps.
Skin irritation (dermatitis) may be caused by contact with contaminants or additives in water (such as essential oils or chlorine). Skin infections may occur if water is not sanitary, particularly in patients with open wounds. There are several reported cases of dermatitis and bacterial skin infections (such as with Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Staphylococcus aureus) associated with hot tub or whirlpool use.
Vigorous use of water jets should be avoided in patients with fractures, known blood clots, bleeding disorders, severe osteoporosis, open wounds, or during pregnancy.
Although water births are used popularly, safety has not been well studied. The fetal effects of prolonged labor in high or low temperature waters are not known.
Hydrotherapy should not delay the time to diagnosis or treatment with more proven techniques or therapies, and should not be used as the sole approach to illnesses. Patients with known illnesses should consult their physician(s) before starting hydrotherapy.
This client information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).