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Using Hyperbaric Therapy as a form of Medicine

by Tim

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a form of medical therapy that can help treat various conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning, thermal burns, and decompression sickness. The therapy involves sitting or lying inside a hyperbaric chamber and breathing pure oxygen. The air pressure inside the chamber is higher than the atmospheric pressure, allowing your lungs to take in more oxygen. Here’s an overview of the therapy and how hyperbaric medicine can be an option for different ailments and conditions:

The Basics of Hyperbaric Therapy

Hyperbaric therapy involves maximizing oxygen intake by delivering pressurized oxygen inside an enclosed chamber. The goal is to augment oxygen levels in the blood and tissues. Oxygen is a key component the human body needs to grow, reproduce, and convert food into energy. Approximately 21% of the ambient air people breathe is oxygen, while HBOT can deliver 100% pure oxygen to the body. 

The high pressure of HBOT allows your lungs to maximize intake, so each inhalation is like a deep breath. Pure oxygen increases availability in the blood and supplies it to the cells that need it. Augmented blood oxygen levels from HBOT can remedy various hypoxic situations. Hypoxia occurs when the cells and tissues are starved of oxygen. HBOT also has antimicrobial and immunomodulatory benefits. 

Using Hyperbaric Therapy as Medicine

The FDA approves hyperbaric oxygen therapy for air and gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene, and certain hearing loss conditions. Other approved applications include wound healing, radiation injuries, severe anemia, skin grafts, crush injuries, and bone and skin infections. HBOT has also been used to treat additional off-label conditions. Here are five areas that hyperbaric medicine can impact and how people and practitioners use it for different medical conditions:

1. Expediting Wound Healing

Injuries, cuts, bruises, and burns can leave wounds on your skin, tissues, and cells. The wounds need oxygen to heal, and HBOT is an effective therapy for increasing oxygen supply. Oxygen is used in tissue regeneration, so hyperbaric treatment can help speed up the natural healing process. HBOT’s application in wound healing is extensive, covering traumatic wounds, bacteria-infected wounds, diabetic foot ulcers, and thermal burns. The therapy’s potential for angiogenesis can also expedite healing for skin grafts and radiation-induced wounds.

2. Reducing Inflammatory Responses

Inflammation caused by injury, disease, or infection can disrupt circulation. The swelling blocks blood from reaching the cells, resulting in oxygen and nutrient starvation. Inflammation also causes pain. Hyperbaric therapy can reduce swelling and speeds up wound healing, which counters the inflammatory responses. People with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions can use HBOT to help relieve pain and swelling. The therapy also has immunomodulatory effects, which prevent autoimmune attacks that often cause inflammation.

3. Treating Microbial Infections

Hyperbaric therapy can be used as an antimicrobial adjuvant for treating infected wounds. Increased oxygen supply helps to kill harmful bacteria and viruses while increasing the body’s ability to fight infections. HBOT’s antimicrobial potential can help treat conditions like osteomyelitis and necrotizing fasciitis.

4. Remedying Medical Emergencies

HBOT can be an urgent indication during various medical emergencies, including decompression sickness and air or gas embolism. Other emergencies that can benefit from hyperbaric therapy include crush injuries, acute traumatic ischemias, and carbon monoxide poisoning. HBOT therapy results in rapid response because the cells and tissues are flooded with instantly bioavailable oxygen. The therapy can also help prevent hypoxia, edema, and ischemia in trauma patients by stimulating cell regeneration.

5. Improving Quality of Life

Hyperbaric therapy can improve symptoms and the quality of life in various patients. The lack of oxygen in cells creates hypoxia, which is associated with pathological stress seen during the onset of different diseases. HBOT resolves hypoxia by flooding the cells with pure oxygen, making it a possible medicine for treating these diseases. Physicians can recommend hyperbaric therapy to patients with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and more. HBOT also has anti-aging properties and may improve the quality of life in healthy people.

Choosing Hyperbaric Medicine

People who undergo hyperbaric chamber therapy can enjoy the health benefits of augmented oxygen levels in the body. The treatment can be used as a form of medicine, reducing chronic pain symptoms and speeding up healing. If you’re considering hyperbaric medicine, choose a facility with a safe environment and experienced practitioners. Discuss with your physician to determine ways HBOT can improve your health. HBOT can be part of a regimen to prevent, treat, or manage various health conditions.

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