What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment used for a variety of conditions, including infection, wounds that will not heal as a result of diabetes or radiation therapy, bubbles of air in the blood vessels, carbon monoxide poisoning, or decompression sickness (the bends).
During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, you sit or lie down on a stretcher inside a cylindrical unit called a hyperbaric chamber. This one person (monoplace) hyperbaric oxygen chamber allows you to breathe 100% oxygen while the pressure inside the chamber is increased two to three times that of normal room pressure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used in combination with other medical treatments, medications and lifestyle changes to achieve the best results for you.
How does the therapy work?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber in which the atmospheric pressure is raised up to three times higher than normal. Under these conditions, your lungs can gather up to three times more oxygen than would be possible breathing oxygen at normal air pressure. Your body’s tissues need an adequate supply of oxygen to function. When tissue is injured, it may require more oxygen to heal. Hyperbaric oxygen increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in your blood resulting in an improvement in oxygen delivery for important tissue function to help fight infection or minimize injury.
As with all medical treatments, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has side effects and risks. Talk with your healthcare provider about the side effects and risks.
How long is treatment?
- Usually, you have hyperbaric oxygen therapy once a day, Monday through Friday. A typical appointment usually lasts about two to three hours. This includes preparation and time spent in the hyperbaric chamber.
- You may have treatments over the course of two to six weeks or more. The benefits are not immediate. For hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be effective, you need to attend all your appointments.
- The number of appointments you have depends on why you are receiving treatment. You may have as many as 30 or more. Ask your health care provider what you can anticipate.
If you have questions about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, talk to your health care provider.