Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment where a person breathes pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, allowing more oxygen to dissolve in the blood and aid in healing. It is used to treat a variety of conditions such as decompression sickness, non-healing wounds, and some neurological conditions.

How does HBOT work?

HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in a chamber that is pressurized to a level higher than normal atmospheric pressure. The increased pressure allows more oxygen to be dissolved in the bloodstream, which can promote healing and reduce inflammation.

When we breathe air at sea level, the oxygen in the air is carried by red blood cells and transported to the tissues in our body. However, when the body is injured or there is a lack of oxygen supply, the healing process can be impaired. In such cases, HBOT can provide additional oxygen to the body, which can help to promote healing and reduce inflammation.

What conditions can HBOT be used to treat?

HBOT has been used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including:

  • Decompression sickness: HBOT is commonly used to treat divers who experience decompression sickness, also known as “the bends.” This condition occurs when nitrogen bubbles form in the bloodstream and tissues due to rapid changes in pressure during diving. HBOT can help to dissolve the bubbles and reduce the symptoms of the condition.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning: HBOT can be used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning by helping to remove the carbon monoxide from the bloodstream and tissues.
  • Wound healing: HBOT can promote wound healing by increasing oxygen supply to the tissues and reducing inflammation.
  • Radiation therapy: HBOT can be used to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy by increasing oxygen supply to the tumor.
  • Traumatic brain injury: HBOT has been studied as a potential treatment for traumatic brain injury, as it may help to reduce brain inflammation and promote healing.
  • Stroke: HBOT has also been studied as a potential treatment for stroke, as it may help to increase oxygen supply to the brain and reduce inflammation.
  • Autism: HBOT has been studied as a potential treatment for autism, as it may help to reduce inflammation in the brain.

What are the potential benefits of HBOT?

The potential benefits of HBOT include:

  • Improved wound healing: HBOT can help to promote wound healing by increasing oxygen supply to the tissues and reducing inflammation.
  • Reduced inflammation: HBOT can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which may be beneficial for a variety of medical conditions.
  • Improved oxygen supply to the tissues: HBOT can help to increase oxygen supply to the tissues, which may promote healing and reduce the risk of tissue damage.
  • Enhanced effectiveness of radiation therapy: HBOT can be used to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy by increasing the oxygen supply to the tumor.

What are the potential risks of HBOT?

The potential risks of HBOT include:

  • Barotrauma: HBOT can cause barotrauma, which is damage to the body’s tissues due to changes in pressure. This can occur in the ears, sinuses, lungs, and teeth.
  • Oxygen toxicity: Breathing pure oxygen at high pressure can cause oxygen toxicity, which can result in seizures, vision changes, and other symptoms.
  • Claustrophobia: Some people may experience claustrophobia or anxiety while in the hyperbaric chamber.
  • Fire hazard: HBOT involves the use of pure oxygen, which can increase the risk of fire.