Hydrotherapy involves the use of water to cure diseases and to alleviate pain. It was known as hydropathy earlier. Human beings have been practicing hydrotherapy from thousands of years. Hippocrates – who is considered to be the father of Western medicine – prescribed bathing in spring water as a cure for illness.
Types of hydrotherapy:
There are many types of hydrotherapy. Here is brief description of some of them:
Steam bath: Steam baths are used to treat bronchitis, asthma, skin problems, pain and allergies.
Steam inhalation: Here water is boiled in a large pot. Steam is inhaled. Steam inhalation provides relief from sinus infections and nasal congestion. People with high blood pressure should avoid steam inhalation.
Hydro massage: Here jets of water are directed to various parts of the body. It may be powerful or gentle. Hydro massage produces relaxation.
Sitz bath: This is also called as hip bath. Here only the hip is soaked in water or saline solution. The Sitz bath can either be cold or hot or can alternate between hot and cold. A Sitz bath is used to treat hemorrhoids, uterine cramps, prostate problems, impotence, inflammation, vaginal discharge, constipation and other abdomen related ailments.
Full immersion bath: Here the person is immersed in water (up to shoulder level) for around 20 minutes. The temperature of the water is maintained at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The water may be plain or it may contain herbs, salts or oils. This form of hydrotherapy produces relaxation.
Cold foot bath: Here the feet are immersed in cold water (up to the ankles) for around one minute. Cold foot baths provide relief to tired feet. It is also found to be effective against insomnia, headaches, sprains and varicose veins.
Warm foot bath: In this type of foot bath, the feet are immersed in warm water (around 97 degrees Fahrenheit) for around ten minutes. Then it is followed up with a quick cold foot bath. This treatment stimulates blood vessels. It is also found to be effective in treating bladder infections, cold feet and insomnia. People with high blood pressure should avoid warm foot bath.
Hydrotherapy is definitely effective. But people should ensure that they are treated by experts in the field. Also if they notice any side effects they should consult a certified physician immediately.