An Inside Look Into Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

The tissues in your body require oxygen to function, and when injured, they require even more oxygen to survive. For instance, your body tissues need more oxygen if you have conditions like gangrene, non-healing wounds, severe anemia, burns, brain abscess, or radiation injury, among others. Fortunately, Docere Integrated Medicine offers hyperbarics Auburn – a treatment in which ambient pressure exceeds sea-level atmospheric pressure.

In such conditions, your lungs gather more oxygen than they would under normal conditions. The extra high oxygen levels help fight bacteria, encourage normal tissue oxygen levels, and promote healing.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment that increases the amount of oxygen your blood carries. It is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness, but healthcare providers also use it to treat:

  • Air bubbles in blood vessels
  • Severe infections
  • Slow-healing wounds due to diabetes or radiation injury

The air pressure in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber is increased two to three times higher than normal air pressure. As such, your lungs can gather much more oxygen than would be possible at normal air pressure. This extra oxygen fights bacteria and triggers the release of growth factors and stem cells, which promote healing.

How safe is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally with rare complications. However, this treatment does carry some risks, including:

  • Lung collapse as a result of air pressure changes
  • Temporary myopia or nearsightedness caused by quick eye lens changes
  • Seizures. These can happen due to oxygen toxicity or too much oxygen in your central nervous system
  • Injuries in the middle ear. For example, eardrum rupture and leaking fluid due to changes in air pressure.
  • If you have diabetes and take insulin, you may experience lowered blood sugar

The oxygen-rich environment of the treatment chamber may also increase the fire risk.

What to expect during hyperbaric oxygen therapy

You can receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy during your stay in the hospital or as an outpatient procedure. Generally, there are two types of hyperbaric oxygen chambers:

  • A monoplace unit. This is a unit designed for one person. During treatment, you lie on a table that slides into a clear plastic chamber.
  • A multiperson hyperbaric oxygen room. It is designed to accommodate several people. You may sit or lie down during treatment and receive oxygen through a mask over your face or a lightweight hood placed over your head.

The benefits are the same whether in an individual unit or a multi-person environment for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Since the air pressure in the room is two to three times higher than in normal conditions, you will experience a temporary feeling of fullness in your ears. It is similar to what you might feel at a high elevation, like in an airplane. Yawning or swallowing can help you relieve that feeling.

For most conditions, the therapy session lasts about two hours. The healthcare team members will monitor you and the therapy unit throughout treatment.

If you have further questions about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, consult your provider at Docere Integrated Medicine.