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What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a simple and non-invasive medical treatment used to speed up the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a pressurized body chamber. Under normal circumstances, oxygen is carried through the body only by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into every part of the body and can be carried to areas with little to no circulation. During this treatment, extra oxygen is able to reach all the damaged tissues and the body can start its own healing process. Continue reading to find questions answered by Experts.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatment

When tissues are injured, your body needs more oxygen than usual to survive. HBOT can help to temporarily restore blood gasses, increasing the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. This type of therapy may be recommended if you have one of the following conditions:

  • severe anemia
  • brain abscess
  • air bubbles in your blood vessels
  • burn
  • decompression sickness
  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • sudden deafness
  • gangrene
  • condition that may cause tissue death
  • non-healing wounds like a diabetic foot ulcer
  • radiation injury
  • sudden and painless vision loss

Benefits

The following are ways HBOT has benefited people:

  • Increased pressure and oxygen dissolves into the blood plasma and all body cells, tissue and fluids.
  • It increases oxygen concentration in all body tissues even with little to no blood flow.
  • This type of therapy stimulates growth of new blood vessels to locations with reduced circulation, including atrial blockages.
  • It aids in treatment of infection by enhancing white blood cell action.
  • HBOT helps in treating chronic degenerative health problems.
  • It delivers blood and oxygen to vital organs where it is reduced.
  • HBOT relieves pain, fights infection and keeps threatened tissue alive.

How to Prepare

Your experience should be as comfortable as possible. Some places will allow you to watch television, read or sleep during the procedure. Pressure will build in your ears much like the way it would when changing altitudes. Yawning, chewing gum and swallowing are all ways to equalize the pressure. Consult with the technician if any of the following apply to you:

  • cold or flu
  • nasal or chest congestion
  • diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • ear or sinus infection
  • recent change in medications
  • have not eaten the day of your appointment
  • have not taken insulin, if diabetic

For your safety, the following regulations are strictly enforced:

  • Do not wear shoes in the chamber.
  • Arrive 10 minutes before treatment.
  • Do not wear grease, oils, alcohol or petroleum based ingredients.
  • Remove all loose accessories.
  • Do not consume carbonated beverages for at least four hours before your treatment.
  • Eat regular meals before treatment and a high protein snack, if needed.
  • Check with your technician before bringing anything into the chamber.
  • Visitors are not allowed in the chamber, although an adult family member may accompany children.
  • It is important to show up to appointments as prescribed.
  • To maximize benefits, quit smoking while you are receiving treatments. If you are unable to quit, refrain from smoking at least two hours before each session.
  • Dental work must be completed before starting HBOT.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Side Effects

Minor side effects to the therapy treatment may include light-headedness and fatigue. More serious side effects of HBOT may include:

  • damage to the lungs
  • build-up of fluid or rupture of the middle ear
  • damage to the sinuses
  • nearsightedness
  • oxygen poisoning

Side effects are most generally minor as long as the session lasts no longer than two hours and the pressure is not greater than three times the normal atmospheric pressure.

What to Expect

Some facilities have chambers that can hold several people at once, though most places have chambers that can only hold one person at a time called a monoplace. This is typically what happens during an HBOT session:

  • Remove your clothing and wear the provided gown that is 100% cotton.
  • Lie on the table that slides into the monoplace.
  • Relax and breath normally.
  • You are able to talk to the technician during your treatment.
  • The chamber is sealed and filled with pressurized oxygen, which is 2.5 times the normal air pressure.
  • The session can last between 30 minutes to two hours. The technician will slowly depressurize the chamber when finished.

Once your session is complete, you may feel lightheaded or tired. Most times, this will go away after a short period of time. The number of treatments you need depends on the severity of your wound and how well it responds to the therapy.

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