Most patients scheduled for a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy wonder what the procedure involves, how it works or whether it has side effects among many other uncertainties. HBOT simply refers to the delivery of oxygen to the tissues at a high atmospheric pressure. The procedure is carried out within an enclosed but transparent chamber called a hyperbaric chamber. HBOT optimizes healing by subjecting a patient to 100% oxygen to ensure concentrated supply of oxygen to damaged tissues.
The secret behind HBOT treatment
Our bodies rely on the 21% atmospheric oxygen for survival but damaged tissue requires more oxygen to heal. Hyperbaric therapy capitalizes on the ability of the body to absorb more oxygen when the gas is delivered at higher pressure rates. By raising the pressure to three times the normal atmospheric pressure, the body absorbs about 20 times more oxygen.
Fields of Application
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the primary treatment for decompression sickness and arterial gas embolism. However, its use in other treatments requires approval from a drug physician since oxygen is considered a drug. A patient may be subjected to mild HBOT carried out at 1.40 times the atmospheric pressure and 95% oxygen. Mild HBOT administration does not require prescription of a physician, it is relatively cheaper, has minimal to zero risks, and has numerous health benefits.
Duration of Administration
A session of hyperbaric oxygen therapy takes approximately 90 to 120 minutes. Treatments may continue for 20 to 40 sessions depending on diagnosis. The hyperbaric chamber may be equipped with television, video, or speaker system for entertainment during treatment. A patient may also choose to sleep, but the most important thing is to remain relaxed during a session.
Who is eligible for the therapy?
HBOT is used to treat several conditions as adjunctive therapy if standard treatments do not yield signs of success. These include burns, wounds, sudden deafness, severe anemia, crushing injury, radiation injury, and carbon monoxide poisoning among others.
Key Benefits of HBOT
This therapy is beneficial to any patient with an ailment resulting from an inflammation of the body. It is a relief to such patients as it inhibits swelling around affected areas and hastens wound healing process. The high oxygen concentration is also detrimental to cancerous cells. Blood capillaries, arteries and veins are found to grow faster and healthier after complete HBOT sessions. HBOT stimulates oxygenation, promotes nerve growth in the brain, and makes chemotherapy drugs more effective. It also increases survival rates in metastatic cancer cases when combined with ketogenic diets.
Treatments involving oxygen therapy in children with autism have yielded significant improvements. Experiments have proved this therapy to improve sensory and cognitive awareness, receptive language, eye contact, social skills, and overall body functioning. This therapy has been significant in stem cell transplantation as it triggers the body to supply more of these essential cells during bone formation.
Contraindications and Side Effects
The use of hyperbaric therapy may cause brief myopia, claustrophobia, ear popping, mild sinus discomfort, and pulmonary oxygen toxicity in rare cases. Hyperbaric therapy is strictly prohibited for patients with untreated tension pneumothorax, which is the accumulation of air in the pleural cavities within the lungs. Patients should always discuss their medication histories with physicians before an oxygen therapy to rule out any possible contraindications.
Questions such as what does hyperbaric oxygen therapy do and what are the benefits have been systematically addressed in this article. Delivering pure oxygen at a high pressure has been found to hasten the process of tissue healing, render cancerous cells less virulent, streamline chemotherapy drugs to tumors, and prevent tissue loss in radiation infections. Consequently, the future of this treatment for non-healing wounds, cancer, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation remains bright.