Q: What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
A: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a non-invasive procedure in which the
patient is placed in a chamber containing 100% oxygen at pressures of more
than one Atmosphere Absolute (ATA) - the atmospheric pressure at sea level,
14.7 pounds per square inch. Pressures from 1.5 to 3 ATA are typically
utilized, and most hyperbaric treatments last about 2 hours.
Q: How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy work?
A: Because of the increased oxygen and the increased pressure, hyperoxygenation
physically puts 10 to 20 times more oxygen directly into the body's tissues.
This results in a number of physiological mechanisms which produce many
Q: What are the effects of Hyperoxygenation?
As HBO physically dissolves extra oxygen into the blood plasma, it promotes
a process called angiogenesis - formation of new capillaries into wound
areas. This aids the treatment of anemias and ischemias.
HBO inhibits the growth of a number of anaerobic as well as aerobic
organisms. It also enhances the the processes of the body's own
disease-fighting factors such as leukocytes, and these two effects
complement one another.
Q: What are the effects of Increased Pressure?
A: Reduction in gas
Higher pressures produce an effect described by Boyle's Law - gas decreases
in volume as the pressure on it increases. At 3 ATA, free gas trapped in the
body is reduced in volume by two-thirds. Air embolism and decompression
illness are successfully treated in this way.
Oxygen tends to wash all other gasses out of the body. Under increased
pressure this process is more efficient, so HBO is extremely helpful in
treating carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning.
High pressure oxygen causes constriction of the blood vessels, decreasing
edema and intracranial pressure. This effect is useful in burns and crush
Q: How does HBO therapy feel?
A: Most patients will feel no differently than they would at home in their
beds. They can listen to music or watch TV, talk to family members, or
simply take a nap. At times during the treatment, they may experience a
sensation of fullness in the ears as their eardrums adjust to the pressure
changes, but there are a number of easy ways to remedy this.
Q: How many treatments does HBO typically
A: Treatments are individualized for each patient, based on the condition and
their particular response to the therapy. Some emergency cases require only
one or two treatments, while wound healing cases may take 20 to 30
treatments to achieve maximum benefit.
Treatments are administered once or twice a day for five to six days a week,
on an in-patient or out-patient basis.
Q: Will health insurance cover the cost of
hyperbaric medicine treatments?
A: Yes. You can find more information at
Q: What after effects does HBO cause?
A: Naturally, like all medical treatments, HBO presents some risks, but it
usually has no after effects.
Some patients report a "crackling" in their ears between treatments. This is
easily relieved in the same manner that the ears are cleared of pressure
changes during treatments. Some patients may experience lightheadedness
immediately after treatments, but this usually passes after several minutes.
In rare cases, patients may develop temporary changes in eyesight. Altered
vision usually returns to normal six to eight weeks after the end of