Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment, typically used to treat decompression sickness in scuba divers. It’s also effective for conditions such as serious infections, air bubbles in blood vessels, and non-healing wounds from diabetes or radiation injury. In the hyperbaric chamber, air pressure is increased 2 to 3 times higher than normal, allowing the lungs to intake more oxygen, aiding in bacterial combat and stimulating the release of growth factors and stem cells to enhance healing processes.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Enhancing Healing for Various Conditions

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment that boosts the amount of oxygen carried in your blood, aiding in tissue repair and recovery. This therapy is particularly beneficial for injuries, as injured tissue requires increased oxygen for healing. Through repeated sessions, HBOT can elevate oxygen levels in the body, promoting normal tissue oxygenation even after the treatment concludes.

HBOT is utilized across medical institutions to address a range of conditions. Your healthcare provider might recommend HBOT if you’re experiencing:

  • Burns
  • Decompression sickness
  • Skin graft or flap at risk of tissue death
  • Nonhealing wounds like diabetic foot ulcers
  • Gangrene
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Arterial gas embolism (air bubbles in blood vessels)
  • Severe anemia
  • Brain abscess
  • Crushing injury
  • Sudden deafness
  • Infection leading to tissue death in skin or bone
  • Radiation injury
  • Sudden, painless vision loss

HBOT offers a significant advantage to patients with various conditions by elevating oxygen levels, thereby promoting healing and enhancing outcomes. This therapy ensures that injured tissues receive sufficient oxygen, crucial for their recovery process. By increasing pressure, HBOT optimizes oxygen transportation through the bloodstream, especially to areas requiring healing. Furthermore, it bolsters the immune response of white blood cells, fortifying the body’s ability to combat infections.


The process of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is usually safe. Complications are not common. There is some risk associated with this therapy, which includes:

  • Damage to the middle ear brought on by changes in air pressure, such as fluid leakage and eardrum rupture.
  • Temporary changes in the eye’s lens that result in myopia, or nearsightedness.
  • Barotrauma, or lung collapse brought on by changes in air pressure.
  • Central nervous system seizures brought on by an excess of oxygen, commonly referred to as oxygen poisoning.
  • Reduced blood sugar levels in diabetics receiving insulin therapy.
  • In rare cases, fire—caused by the treatment chamber’s oxygen-rich atmosphere.
  • Seizures have happened to some hyperbaric oxygen therapy recipients on rare occasions.
  • Due to their limited size and confines, monoplace chambers may cause claustrophobia.

Before the procedure

Prior to undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, your healthcare provider will conduct a thorough assessment considering various factors such as your medical condition, age, and overall health. This evaluation will guide them in determining the duration and frequency of your therapy sessions. It’s important to openly discuss your medications and any medical implants you have with your healthcare provider, as certain devices, like older pacemakers, may be affected by exposure to a hyperbaric environment. Your healthcare provider will also advise you on potential side effects.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to disclose any skincare products you regularly use, as pure oxygen can increase their flammability at lower temperatures.

When preparing for your session, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any metal objects or electronic devices, as these could potentially create sparks in the high-oxygen environment and pose a fire risk. You’ll only be permitted to bring a small bottle of water into the chamber.

Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions typically last between one and two hours, it’s advisable to use the restroom prior to entering the chamber.

During the procedure

During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, you may be placed in a specialized chamber designed for either single-person (monoplace) or multiple-person (multiplace) treatment. In a monoplace chamber, you lie on a table that slides into the chamber, while in a multiplace chamber, you receive oxygen treatment through a mask or hood. As the chamber pressurizes with oxygen, you may experience sensations like clogged ears or popping similar to altitude changes. However, you can relieve this discomfort by yawning, swallowing, or holding your nose and swallowing water. Throughout the procedure, you can pass the time with activities like watching TV, listening to music, or reading.

A healthcare provider supervises the treatment, answering questions and monitoring your well-being. They may prompt you to take short breaks to breathe normal air. Whether in a monoplace or multiplace chamber, the environment is carefully controlled to ensure your safety and comfort during the therapy session.

After the procedure

Towards the conclusion of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, your healthcare provider will gradually decrease the pressure within the chamber to allow your body to acclimate. They will then assist you in exiting the chamber or removing your mask/hood, conducting vital sign checks such as blood pressure, pulse, and ear examination. For individuals with diabetes, blood sugar levels will also be monitored. Once it’s determined that monitoring is no longer necessary, you can change into your clothes and depart. Post-treatment, you might experience drowsiness, though it’s not obligatory to have someone drive you home, it’s advisable to consider it.


After a session of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), you can resume normal activities immediately. However, consistent sessions are typically necessary to observe benefits. It’s crucial to adhere to the full treatment plan and maintain communication with your healthcare provider for monitoring potential complications. Contact your healthcare provider if you have a chronic wound or medical condition suitable for HBOT. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience breathing difficulties after HBOT.