What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

There are several new types of therapy that are being used to treat injuries and conditions. One of these is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It is already an accepted treatment for decompression sickness (the ‘bends’) suffered by divers. However, it is now more widely available and popular than ever before. Here we take a closer look at how it works.

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What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

According to the British Hyperbaric Association, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a process where the amount of oxygen available to your body’s tissues is increased. This creates an environment where healing is more likely to take place.

What conditions can it be used to treat?

The two conditions treated by hyperbaric oxygen therapy by the National Health Service (NHS) are mainly decompression illness and arterial gas embolism. It is also used to help people who have damaged tissue, for example, after cancer radiation treatment. However, in the United States, it is used to treat other conditions including carbon monoxide poisoning and crush injuries.

Where can you find hyperbaric oxygen chambers?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is delivered in a chamber. Because of the pressure inside the chamber, your body absorbs more oxygen. This is why it can be helpful for many conditions such as those listed here: https://www.foreverclinic.co.uk/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy/. The pressure inside the chamber can be up to three times that of normal air pressure.

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What happens during the therapy?

You will lie down on a table that slides you into the chamber. Only one person is treated at a time. However, there are places called ‘hyperbaric oxygen rooms’ where several people are treated at the same time.

The chamber is sealed and the air pressure is gradually raised. This may make your ears feel full to begin with. This feeling is easily removed by yawning. You will normally undergo the treatment for two hours. Sometimes, you feel tired or hungry afterwards.

Some conditions require just two or three sessions but others need more. You may need a wider treatment plan to get the best benefit from the therapy.