Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness, a potential risk of scuba diving. Other conditions treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy include serious infections, bubbles of air in your blood vessels, and wounds that may not heal as a result of diabetes or radiation injury.
What is hyperbaric chamber?
Hyperbaric chamber, also called decompression chamber or recompression chamber, sealed chamber in which a high-pressure environment is used primarily to treat decompression sickness, gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene resulting from infection by anaerobic bacteria, tissue injury arising from radiation therapy for cancer (see cancer: Radiation therapy), and wounds that are difficult to heal.
What Is the Principle of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that entails the use of oxygen at increased pressures for therapeutic purposes. The treatment is administered in hyperbaric chambers where pure oxygen is (sometimes) circulated.
The air we breathe at sea level contains only 21% oxygen. The oxygen we breathe in is temporarily incorporated in the red blood cells and transported to tissues and cells.
However, injury or disease may disturb this process, depriving tissues and cells of some or all of their required oxygen. When this happens, normal atmospheric pressure is not strong enough to force the necessary amount of oxygen deep into the body’s tissues.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy enables the body to absorb much more oxygen by saturating the blood plasma. As a result, oxygen is pushed beyond the red blood cells, directly into all the damaged tissues, jump starting the healing process.
In addition to saturating the blood plasma, breathing oxygen under elevated pressures has proven to be beneficial for multiple medical conditions. HBOT enhances the body’s white cells’ capacity to kill bacteria and fight infection. It also speeds wound repairing and recovery by promoting the growth of new blood vessels.
Increased oxygen supply can also help individuals suffering from air embolism, decompression sickness, burns, cerebral edema, diabetic wounds, gas gangrene, stroke, and many others. More than that, it’s a great way to keep your skin looking young and vibrant.
However, you need to be prudent. Although HBOT can help heal several conditions, it’s no magic bullet. To learn if you are suited for this therapy you need to talk with your doctor. Also, always make sure the treatment is administered in a clinical setting.
Monoplace Hyperbaric Chambers
A monoplace hyperbaric chamber holds just one patient at a time. Lying inside a clear tube, patients breathe 100% medical grade oxygen, prescribed and supervised by a physician, at a specific atmospheric pressure for a designated amount of time. A specially trained hyperbaric technician monitors each patient from outside the chamber during treatment at all times.
Multiplace Hyperbaric Chambers
A multiplace hyperbaric chamber holds more than one patient at a time. Depending on their individual needs, patients may sit in chairs or recline while receiving oxygen through face masks or hoods. During the treatment session, a hyperbaric technician accompanies patients into the chamber to monitor them directly, or perform procedures compatible with high atmospheric pressure.
Soft Hyperbaric Chambers
Mild hyperbaric chambers, otherwise known as “soft” hyperbaric chambers, are “bags” made of polyurethane or canvas material. These chambers reach a much lower pressure and only compress room air, which contains about 21% oxygen vs. the 100% medical grade oxygen used in a traditional monoplace or multiplace hyperbaric chamber. Despite these key differences, “soft chambers” are often marketed as effective as the hard monoplace or multiplace chambers in a host of conditions, even if these claims have not been studied or proven. Users of in-home soft hyperbaric chambers are advised to take precautions, speak to an expert, and make sure they are supervised each time they get into the chamber.
What are the Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has numerous benefits in treating both medical and non-medical processes. Below are some of its primary benefits;
Treating Arterial Gas Embolism and Decompression Sickness
Air-gas embolism is a potentially fatal condition caused by the introduction of air bubbles into the bloodstream which subsequently blocks arteries. This condition occurs mainly after surgical procedures and might cause severe damages to the lungs, heart, and brain.
Decompression sickness is a condition that arises from deep water or scuba diving. While ascending, the diver experiences increased ambient pressure, which leads to the formation of bubbles in the body.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the best procedure for treating decomposition sickness and air embolism. During this process, high-pressured oxygen reduces the size of gas bubbles, thus improving blood flow to the tissues. The pressure is gradually reduced back to atmospheric levels after the elimination of bubbles allowing the patient to return to normality.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Strengthens Wound Healing Processes
One of the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the speeding of wound healing. The absorption of extra oxygen in the bloodstream benefits patients significantly. Oxygen can reach poorly perfused parts to reduce inflammations. With the reduction of inflammations, tissues revive, and the wound healing process improves considerably.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chambers Fight Radiation Sicknesses
This procedure plays an essential role in recovering body tissues from radiation sickness. Radiations damage sensitive cells, leaving body organs with less strength. The introduction of higher oxygen concentrations together with repaired vascular systems helps heal the areas affected by radiation.
Other benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy include the treatment of:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Bone marrow infection
- Gas gangrene
- Diabetic wounds
- These are some of the conditions you can treat with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.