Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a common treatment for a variety of severe or treatment-resistant medical conditions. Hyperbaric care involves breathing pure oxygen in a room where the air pressure is 1.5-3 times higher than normal. The pressurized chamber and high concentration of oxygen enables the lungs to breathe in more oxygen than usual. Increased oxygen levels in the blood can improve circulation, promote healing, and reduce inflammation.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy does the body good
Hyperbaric care can provide damaged tissues with the appropriate amount of oxygen to function and heal. After an injury, damaged tissue can benefit from an increased concentration of oxygen to speed up the recovery process. HBOT can treat a variety of conditions.
1. Brain abscess
Combined with antibiotics, HBOT has been shown to fight off infection by strengthening the immune system’s defenses and killing harmful bacteria. Hyperbaric care can primarily reduce the amount of time spent on antibiotics for brain abscess patients.
2. Diabetic ulcers
Diabetic foot ulcers that develop at the bottom of the foot can be caused by a variety of factors. Most non-infected foot ulcers can be treated without surgery, but patients with severe ulcers or those with a septic diabetic foot may benefit from hyperbaric care. HBOT can help patients to stave off an amputation.
3. Injury from radiation therapy
Radiation therapy for cancer can cause soft tissue and bone damage, increasing the risk of complications. Hyperbaric care has been shown to improve the blood vessel damage and tissue scarring that develops after radiation therapy. Increased oxygen stimulates new blood vessel formation and reduces fibrosis.
4. Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is known as the silent killer. Carbon monoxide can reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood causing symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and chest pain. Gas poisoning can be treated without hyperbaric care, but HBOT can reduce the risk of nerve damage and brain injury from carbon monoxide poisoning.
5. Thermal burns
Second- and third-degree burns damage the epidermal and dermal layer. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can reduce the damage caused by the burn and reduce inflammation if done shortly after the injury. Increased oxygen can prevent the body from attacking the damaged tissue and promotes new tissue growth.
6. Decompression sickness
Scuba divers may experience decompression sickness, also known as the bends, when nitrogen bubbles form in the body’s tissues and blood. This causes muscle pain, nausea, and numbness. Hyperbaric care is the most common treatment for decompression sickness because the treatment reduces bubbles in the blood and supplies tissues with much-needed oxygen.
A safe and effective complementary treatment option
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is considered a safe procedure with very minor risk of complications. The number of sessions needed depends on the medical condition, but many patients have needed as many as 40 two-hour treatments. For best results, HBOT is used as a complementary treatment option in a personalized healthcare plan. For more information about hyperbaric care, consult a healthcare provider.