Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is commonly known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It is a procedure or a process whereby a patient is placed inside an oxygen chamber or a pressurized room and made to breathe in pure oxygen.
This is done so that the patient will recover faster from serious wounds that won’t heal due to diabetes or other conditions.
A patient with severe infection or with decompression sickness can also undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy to heal faster.
The air pressure hyperbaric oxygen chamber is increased to as much as three times higher than normal air pressure.
This causes your lungs to accumulate more oxygen which your blood carriers and circulate all through your body. This stimulates the release of stem cells and growth factors which enhances and increase the healing process.
It brings more oxygen into the bloodstream that is needed for healing of wounds and infections.
Who needs Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used in the treatment of different medical conditions. The tissues in the body need an adequate supply of oxygen to function properly.
Injured or infected tissues need a high supply of oxygen to heal. Increase in oxygen leads to an increase in the circulation of blood. Increase in the circulation of blood promotes and hasten the healing process.
If you have any of the infections or medical conditions listed below, you are an ideal candidate for hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
- Brian abscess
- Crushing injury
- Bubbles of air in your blood vessels
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Cyanide poisoning
- Sudden deafness
- Decompression sickness
- Diabetic related ulcers
- Skin infection
- Bone infection
- Vision loss
- Radiation injury
- Dead tissues
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Bell’s palsy
- Brain injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Spinal cord injury
- Sports injury
Preparing for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Before undergoing a hyperbaric oxygen treatment, you will need to first remove anything that is inflammable or easily ignites a fire. You may be required to shave off your hair or cover it up properly to prevent fire outbreak. You may also need to avoid the use of any skincare products that are petroleum-based or have the tendency of igniting a fire.
How the therapy is done?
You can receive hyperbaric oxygen in a single unit for one person or in a hyperbaric oxygen room for several people.
If you are receiving it in a single unit, you will have to lie down a table that will then slide into a clear plastic tube. The oxygen will be generated when you are inside the clear plastic tube.
If you will be receiving the oxygen in a hyperbaric oxygen room, you may sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a medical bed.
You will receive the oxygen through a mask placed over your face or a clear hood placed over your head.
The air pressure in the room will be about 2-3 times more than normal air pressure. The pressure may cause slight temporary discomfort such as a feeling of fullness of air in your ears which may lower your hearing abilities. To relieve this feeling, you can yawn periodically.
The treatment may last for as short as 3 minutes or as long as two hours depending on the nature of your infection or medical condition.
The amount of oxygen to an individual depends on the overall health condition and the age of the individual. Knowing the specific amount of oxygen that is ideal for each individual to reduce complications or side effects.
You may need to take short breaks during the treatment to breathe normal air so as to prevent oxygen poisoning. Taking short breaks to breathe normal air also prevents the tissue in the body from accumulating too much oxygen which may be detrimental to health.
After the therapy
After the required amount of oxygen has been given, you will be taking out of the oxygen chamber. You may feel tired or hungry.
You can drive back home after the procedure.
What to expect after the therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps to hasten the healing process of infections, wounds and other medical conditions. It does not heal severe wounds or infections on its own. It is used as a part of a comprehensive treatment procedure.
Medications and other medical procedures need to be applied along with hyperbaric oxygen therapy to effectively treat severe medical conditions and infections.
It can, however, be used to treat medical conditions such as arterial gas embolism, carbon monoxide posing, and decompression sickness.
Patients with non-healing wounds or diabetic ulcers may need to undergo the therapy for 20 or more times. The number of times a patient will need to undergo the therapy depends on the severity of the infection or medical condition.
Are there any complications or risks associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally a safe procedure; complications are very rare. However, like every other medical procedure, there are some associated complications or risks that may arise.
Complications that may arise include:
- Injuries in the ear such as leaking fluid and rupture of the eardrum.
- The lungs could collapse due to the increased air pressure
- Patients may feel temporary near-sightedness due to changes in the eye lens.
- Patients may experience seizures due to the increased amount of oxygen in the central nervous system.
- Oxygen poisoning.
- Some patients may experience anxiety or claustrophobia due to be confined in the oxygen chamber.
To prevent complications or risks, there are some measures that can be taken. These include:
- If you have lung diseases, it is not ideal for you to undergo the procedure due to the increased risk of lungs getting damaged or collapsed.
- If you have a cold or fever, it is not ideal to undergo the procedure
- If you have had a recent ear injury or surgery, it is not ideal to undergo the procedure.
- If you have certain medical conditions or you are currently ill, discuss it with your doctor to know if you are an ideal candidate for the procedure or not.