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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a type of treatment used to speed up healing in patients with carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene and other wounds that won't heal. It also helps combat infections where tissue consumption for adequate amounts of air has been limited by bacteria or viruses.


During this treatment, you enter a special chamber to breathe in pure oxygen in air pressure levels 1.5 to 3 times higher than average. The goal is to fill the blood with enough oxygen to repair tissues and restore normal body function.

Facts about hyperbaric oxygen therapy


Throughout history, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been used for various health conditions. The practice is often associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, but HBOT has been used for a variety of ailments.

HBOT uses 100% pure oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure inside an enclosed chamber. Oxygen delivered at high pressures is pushed deep into lymph fluid, cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma. It is then dissolved in blood cells, providing a higher oxygen flow to the body.


In the early 1900s, hyperbaric oxygen therapy was first used in the United States. At that time, it was regarded as an anomaly in the medical world. It was ridiculed by many doctors, and some even called the practice "absurd." However, it was only a few decades ago that HBOT was introduced as an alternative to traditional medicine.

In 1928, Doctor Orville Cunningham built the world's largest hyperbaric chamber, which was then housed in a five-story "air chamber hospital." It was considered a medical wonder at the time. He hoped that the chamber would cure influenza, but it proved ineffective.

In the 1940s, the U.S. Navy tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy to combat decompression sickness. It was also used for respiratory ailments in deep sea divers.

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While hyperbaric oxygen therapy is considered noninvasive, it has been associated with mild side effects. This includes mild claustrophobia, headaches and fatigue.


HBOT was originally used in deep sea divers for the treatment of decompression sickness. However, the practice has been approved for a variety of health conditions, including burns, bone disease, depression and burns. HBOT is now used in about 1,500 hospitals across the United States.


It has also been approved for more than a dozen conditions ranging from burns to bone disease, including:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Cyanide poisoning

  • Crush injuries

  • Gas gangrene (a form of gangrene in which gas collects in tissues)

  • Decompression sickness

  • Acute or traumatic reduced blood flow in the arteries

  • Compromised skin grafts and flaps

  • Infection in a bone (osteomyelitis) that doesn't respond to other treatment

  • Delayed radiation injury

  • Flesh-eating disease (necrotizing soft tissue infection)

  • Air or gas bubble trapped in a blood vessel (air or gas embolism)

  • Chronic infection called actinomycosis

  • Diabetic wounds that are not healing properly


Medicare, Medicaid, and many insurance companies generally cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy for these conditions, but may not do so in every case. Check with your insurance plan to see if it is covered and if you need pre-authorization before treatment.

Be aware that HBOT is not considered safe and effective for treating certain conditions. These include: HIV/AIDs, brain injury, heart disease, stroke, asthma, depression, spinal cord injury, and sports injuries.

How does HBOT work?


  • HBOT has been shown to help wound healing by bringing oxygen-rich plasma into tissue starved for it. Wounds damage blood vessels, which releases fluid that leaks into the tissues and causes swelling; this prevents damaged cells from getting enough nutrients while depriving them of lifeblood - until you add HBOT's high pressure chamber where we flood those broken areas with additional Breathing Room oxygen! The higher pressures inside allow us put more O2 directly onto your skin.


  • HBOT prevents "reperfusion injury." This is the severe tissue damage that can happen when blood flow returns to a crushed or deprived area of your body after it has been stopped by an interruption such as trauma. When this happens, there are events inside damaged cells which release harmful oxygen radicals--which do precise harm towards vital organs without being able be reversed through healing alone because they're not located close enough for gentle touch therapy! But with HBOT therapy though; our bodies' own scavengers go out looking specifically for these problem molecules so you don't need us humans getting involved anymore


  • HBOT helps block the action of harmful bacteria and strengthens the body's immune system. HBOT can disable the toxins of certain bacteria. It also increases oxygen concentration in the tissues. This helps them resist infection. In addition, the therapy improves the ability of white blood cells to find and destroy invaders.


  • HBOT encourages the formation of new collagen and new skin cells. It does so by encouraging new blood vessel to grow. It also stimulates cells to produce certain substances, like vascular endothelial growth factor. These attract and stimulate endothelial cells needed for healing.


Types of hyperbaric oxygen chambers


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses 2 types of chambers:


Monoplace chamber- is a chamber built for 1 person. This chamber is similar looking to that of an MRI machine. The patient slides into the chamber and it is then slowly pressurized with 100% oxygen.


Multiplace chamber is a chamber, or room, can fit 2 or more people at once. This treatment you breathe pure oxygen through masks or hoods. A technician may also be in the chamber with you as you get the treatment.


What to expect during HBOT


There are a number of precautions that must be followed before HBOT is administered. It should only be administered under the supervision of a medical professional. A doctor should also check to make sure that the patient's insurance will cover the treatment.

Unlike conventional medicine, HBOT is noninvasive and gentle. It aims to increase oxygen flow in the body by saturating more sites on red blood cells. It also encourages the body to produce antioxidants, which strengthen the body. It is not recommended for everyone. Those who suffer from depression or chronic illnesses should seek medical attention before HBOT.

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are available in many hospitals. They are large, pressurized containers that look like reclining beds enclosed in an acrylic shell. They weigh nearly one ton. They can be used as part of a treatment program or on their own.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has become a highly popular treatment method. While it is a noninvasive form of medicine, it is not for everyone. It is best to consult with your doctor before beginning treatment. Depending on your condition, a series of treatments may be needed.

Several sessions are often needed, so check beforehand to see whether your insurance company, Medicaid, or Medicare covers the cost.



Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not for everyone. It shouldn't be used by people who have had a recent ear surgery or injury, a cold or fever, or certain types of lung disease. 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may help people with chronic air hunger and other disorders. It can also be used as a preventative measure to avoid the complications that come from it, such as eye damage or lung collapse.

Learn more about HBOT here

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