How it Works

The Scientific Explanation

The earth’s atmosphere normally exerts 14.7 pounds per square inch of pressure at sea level. That is equivalent to one atmosphere absolute (abbreviated as 1 ATA). In this atmosphere we breathe approximately 21 percent oxygen and 79 percent nitrogen. During HBOT, the pressure is increased and the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen.  The increased pressure increases the dissolved oxygen in the blood and all other body tissues and fluid at many times the normal concentration. Physiologically, this produces a directly proportional increase in the plasma volume fraction of transported oxygen which is readily available for cellular metabolism. A number of beneficial biochemical, cellular and physiologic effects result which account for the use of hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunctive therapy.

Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids, including plasma, the central nervous system fluids, and lymph.  Then it can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked.  In this way, extra oxygen can reach damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process.  The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.  It is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment.

What Does It Feel Like?

Hyperbaric treatments are painless, but the patient may experience a sensation of “fullness” in the ears, similar to driving in the mountains, flying, or scuba diving. The “full” feeling occurs as the eardrums respond to the change in pressure. The HBOT technician demonstrates how to relieve this fullness before treatment.

Are there any side effects?

Generally patients tolerate HBOT well.  As with all medical procedures and treatments, some potential after effects may result from exposure to hyperbaric oxygen. The most common problem is middle ear discomfort which is usually eliminated by slow gradual changes in pressure.  Oxygen toxicity can provoke seizures.  These can be avoided by limiting duration of HBOT or taking “air breaks” with room air (21% oxygen).

Medications: Some medications are not compatible with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The HBO technician will obtain a complete drug history before treatment. Each drug taken will be considered individually in relation to HBOT, and should changes be indicated, the prescribing doctor will be advised.

It’s Important to Communicate with Your Doctor | HBOT Technician

COLDS AND OTHER SYMPTOMS: It is important to notify the HBO technician should symptoms occur of a cold or the flu, fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, cold sore, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a generalized ache-all-over feeling. Those types of illnesses are not helped by oxygen, so the HBO treatments may need to be postponed until symptoms have subsided and the doctor allows resumption of HBOT.

SMOKING: It is generally best to quit smoking.  Continued smoking may diminished the benefit of HBOT.