Your body needs oxygen to heal, especially when injured, but it takes more than going outside to supercharge your immune system. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy delivers a concentrated dose of pure, pressurized oxygen to your blood to speed up recovery.
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
The simple act of breathing fresh air can improve our health. Sometimes, when our bodies heal from a wound or infection, we need more oxygen than in the air outside.
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy gives your blood an extra oxygen boost by delivering 100% pure oxygen to your lungs in a specialized pressurized chamber.
The air pressure in an HBO chamber —two to three times higher than average—increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, speeding up our body's ability to heal wounds and repair damaged tissues.
By saturating your blood with oxygen-rich air, your body can fight bacteria, reduce inflammation that can impair healing and produce stem cells that grow new, healthy tissue.
You may have heard of HBO therapy being used to treat scuba divers with decompression sickness or people with carbon monoxide poisoning.
Still, dozens of other conditions can benefit from an extra dose of oxygen. You can count on our highly skilled specialists to diagnose and treat conditions including the following:
While HBO therapy is effective for healing oxygen-starved tissues, it may not be recommended for everyone or all conditions.
You can trust that our team will work with you to determine if HBO therapy is the right treatment path. To get a complete picture of your health, we may recommend tests including the following:
HBO is a simple, painless therapy lasting one or two hours a day for 4-6 weeks, depending on your conditions and your physician's recommendation.
It's our goal to make you as comfortable as possible during therapy. We're here to answer any questions you have and put your mind at ease.
How treatment works
Once you're relaxed and lying or seated in the chamber, we'll circulate oxygen, gradually increasing the pressure.
Your ears may feel full or "clogged," similar to the sensation you experience when you're flying, scuba diving or in an elevator. The feeling is temporary, and a nurse or technician will stay with you during your treatment to monitor and adjust the compression rate.
Once the chamber reaches the correct pressure, the fullness in your ears will fade, and you can relax, rest, watch TV or listen to music for the rest of your treatment. HBO therapy typically lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours. The pressure gradually decreases, and you'll experience a familiar "popping" sensation in your ears, like when driving down a mountain.
There's much to remember when preparing for treatment and we're here to help you.
Some medications may interact with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (Adriamycin, Bleomycin, and Sulfamylon), making the medication less effective. Your team will review each medication and work with your physician if any changes are needed.
While your doctors need to know all your medications, it's essential to let your care team know about any chemotherapy agents, seizure medications, steroids and diabetic medications you're taking now or have taken in the past.
You will be advised to take at least 400 units of vitamin E daily during the entire course of HBO therapy. Vitamin E helps protect your body from absorbing more oxygen than it can safely use.
Your treatment may be postponed if you have symptoms of a cold or the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever blisters, cold sores, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and general body aches.
If you smoke cigarettes, pipe tobacco, cigars or snuff, we strongly recommend stopping once HBO therapy begins to get the full benefit of the treatment.
We all want to look our best, but it's important that you don't use makeup, hair spray, perfume, deodorant or shaving lotion containing a petroleum or alcohol base before treatment.
You will be given a 100% cotton gown and asked to remove watches, rings, other jewelry, hard and soft contact lenses and other prosthetic devices. You can wear glasses, but no other clothing can be worn or brought into the chamber.
Your health and safety is our priority. Side effects from HBO treatment are rare, and many are temporary. However, there's an increased fire risk when using oxygen in any form. We are specially trained in gas handling, decompression and fire safety and take strict precautions.
Side effects include the following:
- Bubbles of air in the brain (cerebral embolism)
- Cataract ripening or maturing
- Changes in vision
- Collapsed lung
- Ear fluid
- Ear pain
- Facial twitching
- Numb fingers
- Sinus pain