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What is HBOT Therapy? 

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a type of therapy that requires you to breathe pure oxygen while being in a pressurised control environment.

It has been used in plenty of studies and therefore has a decent amount of research behind it to indicate its effectiveness in treating ailments such as decompression sickness, serious infections, air bubbles in blood vessels, and non-healing wounds. 

When undergoing HBOT therapy, the air pressure within the chamber is increased to between 2 and 3 times higher than normal. This allows the lungs to breathe in much more oxygen than is usually possible when breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. This increased oxygen concentration can help the body fight infection and promote healing from within. 

What is HBOT Therapy Used For? 

The body needs to get enough oxygen to function, including its tissues, organs, and blood. When the body is injured, the tissues need even more oxygen to heal and survive. HBOT can improve the amount of oxygen your blood carries around the body, giving these injured tissues the means to heal more efficiently. 

When you go through several rounds of HBOT, the higher oxygen levels you experience can enhance your current tissue oxygen levels – even after your treatment has been completed. 

There are a number of other medical conditions HBOT is used to treat, too. Medical professionals might recommend HBOT therapy for anyone suffering from one of the following ailments: 

  • Severe anaemia
  • Air bubbles in the blood vessels
  • Brain abscesses
  • Skin burns
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Crushing injuries
  • Sudden deafness
  • Decompression sickness
  • Gangrene
  • Skin or bone infections
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Injuries for radiation
  • Skin grafts
  • Sudden and painless vision loss 

It’s vital to only undergo HBOT if a healthcare professional gives you the green light because you might have underlying health issues that make this type of therapy unsuitable for you. 

Are There Risks to HBOT? 

For the most part, HBOT is generally considered safe for the majority of people. Complications, while rare, can arise in some people, so make sure you know the risks before opting for the therapy. 

  • Temporary near-sightedness: Myopia can be caused by HBOT if your eye lenses change temporarily during the course of therapy. This shouldn’t last longer than a few hours 
  • Middle ear injuries: You may experience leaking from the eardrum due to changes  in air pressure, while more serious cases may experience eardrum rupture
  • Lung collapse: In rare cases, some experience lung collapse due to air pressure changes (barotrauma) 
  • Fire: There have been reports of fires breaking out within HBOT chambers due to the higher oxygen content within
  • Lowered blood sugar: People who have diabetes treated by insulin might experience lower blood sugar after HBOT therapy

What Should You Expect from HBOT?

HBOT is often characterised by an outpatient procedure, although some people also get it while hospitalised. There are two main types of hyperbaric oxygen chambers: single units and larger rooms for several people. You’ll either lie down and be slid into a clear plastic chamber or be given an oxygen mask and a lightweight clear hood placed over your head. 

The benefits are the same, no matter whether you’re the only person in a treatment room or in a chamber with others. 

When the treatment begins, the air pressure increases to around 2 to 3 times higher than normal. This creates a temporary feeling of heaviness or fullness in your ears, which some have likened to the feeling on an aeroplane when your ears begin popping. You can fix this by yawning or swallowing. 

Most HBOT sessions last for two hours, and you’ll have a team of professionals monitoring you throughout the treatment. While some people note that it offers a strange and unique experience, HBOT shouldn’t be painful. 

When Can You Expect Results? 

You’ll most likely need more than one session of HBOT to reap the rewards. The number of sessions you’ll need will depend on your medical condition. Some ailments, such as CO poisoning will only take three sessions, while other conditions, like non-healing wounds, might take more than 40 treatments.   

HBOT, while helpful for many ailments, is usually offered alongside other therapies and treatments and is therefore not the sole treatment for most things. This is why it is so important to work with a healthcare professional to make sure you’re covering all bases in your treatment plan.

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