Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Benefits
Our bodies need oxygen to function. When we breathe, it’s brought into our lungs and transported by our red blood cells to our bodies. It’s then used to produce energy and sustain life. Researchers discovered that exposure to pure oxygen, at levels much higher than what we are exposed to regularly, can help to treat chronic wounds and infections, decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning and other serious conditions.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves supplying the body’s blood and tissues with pure oxygen in order to promote healing. Hyperbaric medicine was first used in the 1600s when patients went into airtight chambers that could be compressed and decompressed. In the U.S., HBOT was used in the early 20th century to treat the flu and then again in the 1940s to treat decompression sickness among Navy deep sea divers.
Today, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been deemed effective for several health conditions and serves as a non-invasive adjunctive treatment. But the FDA warns us that it’s not useful for every condition under the sun — as some online sources may lead you to believe. And when hyperbaric oxygen therapy isn’t used properly, for the appropriate conditions, it may actually do more harm than good.
The Hyperbaric Chamber
A hyperbaric chamber is a pressurized tube or room that provides pure oxygen in air pressure levels that are up to three times higher than average. As you sit or lie in the chamber, you breathe in pure oxygen so that it enters your blood and travels throughout your body, allowing for tissue repair and the restoration of normal body function.
The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves increasing your exposure to pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube. When you breathe inside the hyperbaric chamber, your lungs are able to gather up to three times more oxygen than it would normally, allowing it to enter your blood and promote healing.
Technically speaking, the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is due to the physical relationships between gas concentration, volume and pressure. When we breathe in 100 percent oxygen at atmospheric pressures of up to 3 atm, this works to raise the amount of oxygen in our blood and tissue. The increased oxygen is then able to control infections, reduce inflammation and swelling, increase collagen deposition and stimulate angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been approved for the treatment of the following conditions:
- Decompression sickness
- Anemia due to severe blood loss
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Chronic wounds that don’t respond to conventional treatment
- Radiation wounds or injury
- Thermal burns caused by heat or fire
- Skin grafts
- Serious infections
- Air or gas embolism, which occurs when bubbles enter a vein or artery
- Arterial insufficiency, which occurs when flow blood slows or stops through arteries.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Benefits:
1. Used to Treat Decompression Sickness
2. Fights Serious Infections
3. Heals Chronic Wounds
4. May Improve Neurodegenerative Diseases
5. Used for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
* If you are looking to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy at home, there are companies that supply portable hyperbaric chambers. It’s important to speak to your healthcare provider about this option and make sure that the portable chamber is safe and regulated.