Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric medicine, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), is the medical use of oxygen at a level higher than atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure is defined as the pressure exerted by the weight of air in the atmosphere of Earth. It is measured with a barometer. Hyperbaric chambers were initially developed as a treatment for the bends, or decompression sickness. This condition occurred in scuba divers and it involves the formation of bubbles of gas, usually nitrogren in the body’s tissues.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) includes a procedure of introducing pure 100 % oxygen into a patient’s body at a higher atmospheric pressure inside a pressurized chamber called hyperbaric chamber. The chamber may be rigid or flexible. Sessions usually do not run more than 2 hours. For most patients, the average number of hyperbaric oxygen treatments is 30-60. Treatments vary according to your condition. Exceptions are made in emergency situations such as diving accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning. The treatment sessions are also called “dives”. There is a hyperbaric technician or a physician monitoring the patient during the treatment session.
The super-saturation of oxygen introduced into the body has beneficial effects on the human body. It increases stem cell growth, significantly reduces swelling or edema, shortens the inflammatory process, improves range of motion, aids in collagen production, shortens the inflammatory process, and promotes angiogenesis or growth of new blood vessels. It also increases the production of osteoblasts and osteoclasts which allows for bone repair and new bone formation. In addition, HBOT helps to prevent infection.
It is useful in treating the following conditions: air or gas embolism, decompression sickness, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, central retinal artery occlusion, gas gangrene, crush injuries, compartment syndrome, diabetic ulcerations and other diabetic issues, necrotizing fasciitis,and idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. HBOT is contraindicated in tension pneumothorax and patients taking Doxorubicin, Cisplastin, Disulfiram, and Mafenide acetate. Additional consideration is warranted in cases involving cardiac disease, COPD, and middle ear barotrauma.
What can a patient expect during the treatment? Treatment is painless however; you may have a sensation of fullness in your ears as your eardrums respond to the changes in atmospheric pressure. An example of this fullness occurs when changing altitudes in an airplane.
To learn more about hyperbaric treatment please visit uhms.org.
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