The body can heal itself, but sometimes it needs help to do so. That’s where hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT comes into play. This non-invasive procedure sends oxygen to the bloodstream in high concentrations, helping the body to heal injuries, infections, and wounds when other methods have failed.
What Benefits Are Seen with HBOT?
People believe they breathe in oxygen every day, but the air is actually a mixture of gases. Oxygen only accounts for 21 percent of this mixture. However, when HBOT is used, the patient receives pure medical-grade oxygen while enclosed in a pressurized chamber. They typically remain in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber for 90 to 120 minutes.
This 100 percent pure oxygen helps the body repair itself. In addition to being used for injuries, infections, and wounds, doctors may recommend this therapy when a patent has a diminished blood supply which puts cells and tissue in the body at risk. The oxygen may help to rejuvenate the cells and tissue.
How Does HBOT Provide These Benefits?
HBOT increases blood flow in the body while weakening any bacteria that are causing an infection. It helps to bring swelling and inflammation in the body down while promoting new blood vessel growth. In addition, it helps the body fight free radicals.
When a person breathes in the air, red blood cells in the body deliver the oxygen in the air to the organs and tissues. During HBOT treatments, the oxygen dissolves in the blood plasma thanks to the pressurized environment. This plasma is the liquid portion of human blood and it is responsible for moving hormones, nutrients, and proteins. Over 50 percent of the blood volume in a person’s body is made up of plasma.
The plasma delivers the oxygen directly to the tissues of the body, which increases the concentration of oxygen. It is able to deliver this oxygen to the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord as well as the lymphatic system. In fact, the concentration can increase by 1,000 percent or more.
What Conditions Can Be Treated With the Help of HBOT?
Medical professionals may turn to hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat many conditions. The FDA has approved its use in multiple situations. Most people associate its use with scuba divers who come up too quickly, but it can be of help in many other situations.
Individuals who have been exposed to carbon monoxide in high concentrations benefit from the delivery of pure oxygen to the bloodstream. When a body part has been crushed, the patient may benefit from time in this chamber, and the same holds for people with severe burns. Diabetic foot ulcers often respond well to this treatment, and a doctor might recommend time in the chamber for patients suffering from gangrene.
This treatment is extremely safe and comes with few risks. Side effects are rarely a concern, although some patients might experience a pressure injury. Low blood sugar is seen in some patients, and certain people experience temporary changes in their vision. These side effects are easily treatable.
Patients should talk with their doctor to learn whether HBOT is a good option for them. A patient must commit to attending all sessions to see the desired results. Those who are willing to do so will find they benefit greatly from the time spent in the chamber.