What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Contributing Author | Shield HealthCare
12/04/17  3:00 PM PST
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one of many types of treatments for wound care. In short, HBOT involves exposing the body to 100% oxygen in a pressurized environment (the air we usually breathe is 21% oxygen). Wounds need oxygen to heal, so exposing a wound to pure oxygen can help speed the healing process.

What happens during your treatment?  

  • HBOT is often given in a sealed chamber called a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Inside you will be immersed in 100% oxygen delivered at a high pressure.
  • Because of the high pressure, lungs are able to gather more oxygen, which is carried through your blood across the body.
  • This helps fight bacteria and assists in the release of growth factors and stem cells, which promote healing.
  • Tissues need oxygen to function properly. When tissue is injured, it needs extra oxygen to survive. HBOT increases the amount of oxygen that your blood can typically carry. The increased oxygen in your blood temporarily recovers the normal levels of blood gases and tissue function that promote healing and fights infection.  

Types of injuries that can be benefit from this therapy include:

  • Delayed radiation injuries
  • Soft tissue infections
  • Thermal burns
  • Certain skin grafts and flaps
  • Crush injuries
  • Diabetes-related wounds

Potential risks include:

  • Trauma to ears/nose due to high pressure
  • Nearsightedness (typically resolves within days after treatment)
  • Convulsions due to oxygen toxicity (not life-threatening)
  • Decompression sickness

During a typical therapy session you will likely be asked to do the following:

  • Remove all clothing and put on a 100% cotton medical gown
  • Lay down on a table that slides into the treatment chamber

During HBOT, you can talk to the clinician administering the treatment at any time. Once you’re in the chamber, it will be sealed and filled with 100% pressurized oxygen. The pressure will increase up to 2.5 times normal air pressure. It is normal for your ears to pop or feel plugged. A treatment session can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

After the procedure:

Once your HBOT session is complete, you may feel temporarily lightheaded, dizzy or tired. These effects will go away after a couple of hours.

If you have any questions or concerns about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, see these FAQs on www.hbot.com.

You can find more articles and videos about wound care below:


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