Hyperbaric Chambers as Therapy
Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy is when you are breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized tube or room. This type of therapy is done when the body’s tissues need to work. If the tissues are injured, then there needs to be more oxygen to survive. The amount of oxygen your blood can carry increases with this therapy and is temporarily restored to normal levels of blood gases and tissue function. This will help heal and fight infections. The air pressure in the chamber will be three times higher than normal and your lungs will gather more oxygen this way. There are a number of diseases that can be cured through Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy such as decompression sickness (a hazard that can occur from scuba diving), severe carbon monoxide poisoning, and arterial gas embolism.
Even though Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy is safe for the most part, there are potential risks involved when air pressure is changed. For example, you can experience temporary nearsightedness from temporary eye lens changes. Lung collapses can occur from air pressure changes. Leaking fluid and eardrum ruptures can occur as well as seizures from too much oxygen in the central nervous system. In certain situations, fire can occur from the oxygen-rich environment of the chambers.
One way the procedure can be done is when a unit is designed for one person where you lie down on a table that slides into a clear, plastic tube. Another way is to be in a room designed to help several people. You can receive oxygen through a mask over your face or a light, clear hood over your head. The air pressure you will receive will cause temporary fullness in the ears similar to when you are on an airplane or in high elevation. This feeling can be relieved by yawning or swallowing. This treatment normally lasts two hours and you can feel tired after.
Depending on the condition you have, it is possible to need more than one session. For example, if you are recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, you might need three visits. Non-healing wounds can require 20-40 treatment sessions. Other conditions might need to be combined with other therapies and drugs such as if you have severe anemia, burns, gangrene, etc. In Europe, there are many Hyperbaric Chambers. For example, in Dublin, there is the The National Hyperbaric Centre and in West Linton, there is the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Trust.
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Page published: October 26, 2017. Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked October 26, 2017