What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
What is a hyperbaric chamber?
How do I prepare for treatment?
How do the hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments feel?
How many hyperbaric oxygen treatments will I need?
Are there side effects to hyperbaric oxygen?
What are the results of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
HyOx administers hyperbaric oxygen therapy with the end result in mind: healing. Healing not just of the body but the mind and spirit as well. Knowing chronic conditions and injuries take their toll on quality of life, HyOx takes life’s key ingredient — oxygen — and prescribes it as a drug with a customized treatment protocol designed for each patient.
But what exactly is hyperbaric oxygen?
A word diagram of the phrase hyperbaric oxygen helps clarify the treatment’s meaning.
HYPER = a Greek prefix signifying over, above, great, excessive, beyond
BARIC = a physics term pertaining to the pressure of the atmosphere
OXYGEN = a colorless, tasteless, odorless, gaseous occurring in the free state in the atmosphere that is essential for animal respiration.
Together, hyperbaric oxygen therapy means the delivery of 100 percent pure oxygen to the ischemic (low oxygen levels due to inadequate blood supply), infected and hypoxic (low oxygen despite adequate blood supply) tissues at two to three times the pressure of air at sea level. During hyperbaric oxygen treatment sessions or “dives,” supersaturation of oxygen increases blood and tissue oxygen content at the wound site to stimulate new cell formation, accelerate healing, fight infection and control further damage.
The HyOx team calls a hyperbaric oxygen treatment “taking a dive” since patients are literally taken to the equivalent of 45 feet below sea level to breathe the pressurized oxygen. Inside the hyperbaric chamber, attendants, certified hyperbaric technician or board-certified physicians tend to patients during the “dive” as other staff members monitor the procedure from a control panel located just outside. In case of a medical emergency, hands-on treatment can be provided instantaneously without the decompression wait time associated with monoplace or single-patient chambers.
HyOx’s hyperbaric chambers are the largest in Georgia (treating as many as 12 people at a time). HyOx’s 31′ long and 9′ wide spacious chambers allows for comfort and movement in a non-claustrophobic treatment environment.
Engineered and manufactured by Gulf Coast Hyperbarics, a Florida firm whose clients include NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, chambers are made with the same materials used in the construction of high-pressure oil pipelines.
HyOx’s multi-patient hyperbaric chamber also features:
- Temperature controlled environment
- Upright seating with footrests
- Separate chamber restroom
- Spacious environment for patients undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy: ability to read, listen to CDs, watch videos, snack, take medications and socialize
The HyOx team will review the following areas with you prior to treatment to ensure your treatment compatibility and safety.
Before treatment, you will be asked to change into 100 percent cotton scrubs that help to ensure safety and cleanliness inside the chamber. No articles containing nylon or polyester or watches, jewelry, hearing aids, contact lenses, and prosthetic devices can be worn inside the chamber. Eyeglasses are acceptable. Lockers are provided, but please leave all valuables at home. Also, personal cleanliness is important to the effectiveness of the treatment. Wound dressings are left on during treatment.
Colds and Symptoms
Notify the HyOx team if you have a cold or symptoms of a cold or flu — including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever blisters, cold sores, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or general body aches. Being sick can affect your ability to clear your ears during compression and decompression in the chamber. It’s advised to postpone treatments until symptoms have subsided.
Make-up, hair spray, wigs, perfume, nail polish, skin lotions, and shaving lotion containing a petroleum (Vaseline) or alcohol base are prohibited inside the hyperbaric chamber. Deodorant should not be used prior to entering the chamber, although it can be applied post-treatment.
If you are a diabetic on insulin, it is important to monitor blood sugars. Also, report any symptoms of low blood sugar to a HyOx team member. If this happens once treatment begins, sugar, orange juice and jellied sugar are available and can be served inside the chamber.
Your complete drug history will enable us to confirm your viability for treatment and if changes in either medication or schedule are necessary. Please note some medications are not compatible with hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
Nicotine is incompatible with hyperbaric oxygen therapy because it diminishes your body’s ability to absorb oxygen by constricting the blood vessels. For best results, please stop smoking until your hyperbaric treatment regimen is complete.
Although hyperbaric oxygen therapy is painless, you may have a sensation of fullness in your ears as your eardrums respond to the changes in atmospheric pressure during the compression (descent) phase. The feeling is similar to traveling on a mountain road, changing attitudes in an airplane or changing depths in underwater diving.
Physics: The eardrum is normally flat while you’re at ground level. It tends to bow inward during compression and unless you clear your ears as taught prior to a treatment, fullness will be felt. By swallowing, moving your lower jaw or blowing out while your nose is pinched, air is forced into the middle ear and pressure on the eardrum is relieved. The air is forced behind the eardrum via the Eustachian tubes that connect the middle ear with the throat.
As the hyperbaric chamber’s pressure increases with “descent,” patients should expect the chamber to feel stuffiness or warmth for approximately five to seven minutes. The air inside HyOx’s hyperbaric chamber is temperature-controlled for comfort once the treatment pressure is reached. Once the treatment is complete, the expansion of the gases during decompression causes the chamber’s air to become considerably cooler.
The diagnosis, the symptoms and the patient’s overall condition determine our treatment protocol. For most patients, the average number of hyperbaric oxygen treatments is 30-60. Of course, this number varies according to a patient’s condition, response to therapy, and their commitment to consistent treatment sessions. The treatments will be administered on consecutive days Monday through Friday until complete. For best results, it is of utmost importance that no appointments are missed. If needed, your referring physician or HyOx will verify your treatment schedule to your employer.
The medical textbook Hyperbaric Medicine Practice states, that “of all the medical treatments carried out in hospitals, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one of the most benign when it comes to side effects. The contraindications are relatively few.”
The most common side effect that may occur is middle ear barotraumas. Clearing the ears during compression minimizes the risk of barotraumas to the ears and sinuses. Although rare, other side effects may include oxygen toxicity (poisoning), claustrophobia, temporary changes in sight, and accelerated maturation of cataracts.
The following conditions and medications may not be compatible with hyperbaric treatments:
- Untreated pneumothorax
- Congenital spherocytosis
- Disulfiram (Antabuse®)
- Doxorubicin (Adriamycin®)
- Mafenide Acetate (Sulfamylon®)
As with all medical treatments, results of hyperbaric oxygen therapy vary from patient to patient depending on the severity, duration and the patient’s commitment to the treatment regimen. Results also can depend on whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used as a primary treatment or as an adjunctive treatment to surgery or antibiotics.
Results also are dependent on your commitment to attend all consecutive treatment sessions. As with all therapies, there are no immediate results. The number of prescribed treatments is evidence-based and must be completed for the best clinical outcome.
For more specific information about the clinical-based results of your specific condition, contact HyOx at 678-303-3200 or consult with HyOx’s board-certified physicians, during your initial consultation.