Patient’s Guide to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Why Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
A diverse series of illnesses may require hyperbaric oxygen therapy. You may receive it as a primary treatment for a specific medical condition, but often it is used as part of a treatment program involving antibiotics and surgery.
What can I expect?
Fully clothed, you lie in a comfortable, cylindrical-shaped chamber surrounded by glass so that you can see outside the chamber. Inside you receive a level of oxygen compression prescribed by your physician.
How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy work?
The air you breathe is made up of 21 percent oxygen. The hyperbaric chamber delivers 100 percent oxygen. As you lie in the full-body hyperbaric (pressurized) cabin you receive two to three times more oxygen than breathing 100 percent oxygen through only a face mask. This hyperbaric dose of oxygen has distinctive healing benefits including:
- Increased oxygen delivery to injured tissue
- Greater blood vessel formation
- Advanced wound healing
- Improved infection control
- Preserved tissue
- Reduced or eliminated tissue obstruction
Essentially, the hyperbaric chamber increases the delivery of oxygen through the bloodstream to body tissues. The result is that it helps you heal because healthy tissue needs oxygen. Some patients experience therapeutic benefits after only one or two treatments. Others need as many as 30 to 40 treatments. Your physician will help you with your treatment plan.
What does hyperbaric oxygen feel like?
Rest assured, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is typically a comfortable experience. You lie restfully in the pressurized chamber and watch TV or even take a nap. You may experience a sensation of fullness in your ears during stages of the therapy, but no worse than you feel when flying in an airplane. Our staff will walk through several easy methods you can apply to relieve and avoid ear discomfort before you receive treatment.
Are there any side effects?
Generally, patients do not experience any side effects from hyperbaric treatment. Some patients have reported a "crackling" in their ears between treatments, which can be cleared using one of the methods our staff member shared with you before receiving treatment. If this continues, be sure to tell a member of our treatment team. Some patients have felt lightheaded for a few minutes immediately following a treatment, but only briefly. In exceptional cases, patients have developed temporary changes in eyesight. Studies show that any change in vision is short-term and will return to pre-treatment status within six to eight weeks once treatment ends. As with all medical treatments and procedures, some risks are associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These risks are rare. Our team will discuss your treatment and risks with you before you consent to this therapy. Overall, you should experience comfortable treatment and continue with normal daily activities following hyperbaric therapy.
How many treatments will I need?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is unique to each patient, however, most wound healing may require 30 to 40 treatments. Treatment is normally provided once a day, five to six days a week. Our hyperbaric medicine team will discuss your initial therapy plan with you before your first treatment. The team will work closely with you to see how you respond to treatment and determine the number of treatment sessions you need thereafter.
Do I need to make special preparations for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Smoking and Caffeine
Tobacco and caffeine products constrict blood vessels and limit the amount of blood and oxygen delivered to your tissues. Do not use tobacco and caffeine products during your course of treatment.
It is important that you share a complete list of medications you are taking, including non-prescription drugs, with the hyperbaric medicine team. Some medications change the body's response to oxygen. Our team will discuss these medications with you.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms - fever, cough, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, body aches - please tell a member of our team immediately. Symptoms may require a temporary delay in your treatment schedule.
Please leave personal items at home or with someone accompanying you on your treatment visit. The team member who helps you with your treatment session will give you a cotton garment to wear during therapy. Cotton reduces the potential for static electricity.
The following items should not be taken into the hyperbaric chamber:
- Air or chemically activated heat wraps
- Cigarettes, matches, lighters
- Jewelry (all metal objects)
- Hairspray and cosmetics
- Perfume, deodorant, shaving lotion
- Oils, grease (hair and skin products)
- Battery-powered devices (i.e. cell phones, hearing aids)
Dentures and partial dental plates will be kept for you until treatment is completed. Also, please remove contact lenses and eye glasses and leave valuable items at home.