Breathing oxygen sustains our life, and heals injuries to the skin, muscle, bones and tissues. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment increases the oxygen flow, for treating severe injuries to tissues, when conventional methods will not provide sufficient healing or likely to prevent death. Treatment begins, when a patient is inside a hyperbaric chamber, where 100 percent oxygen is circulated. Inside the chamber, oxygen is pressurized to two or three times, greater than normal, and patient is either sitting or lying comfortable, with a nurse or respiratory therapist, trained in Hyperbaric Medicine. During the treatment, lungs and skin absorb more concentrated oxygen, within a shorter period of time. Average treatment time, in a hyberbaric chamber is ninety minutes daily, for five days a week, and minimum of twenty treatments, depending on an individual plan. Patients undergoing this treatment, will notice “popping” or fullness in the ear, as the chamber pressurizes, similar to taking off or landing in a plane. Originally, the treatment helped scuba divers, when they got “the bends”, when ascending from deep depths to quickly. This causes nitrogen gas bubbles forming in the lungs, tissues and bloodstream. This blocks flow of blood, and constrict the blood vessels. Treatment inside a hyberaric chamber neutralizes the effects of the nitrogen.
During the time, hyberbaric chambers become a life saving method for many divers, the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society evolved, which is a nonprofit organization, serving over 2, 500 members, that consist of divers, hyberbaric scientists and physicians, from more than 50 countries. Associate members are nurses, respiratory therapists, technicians, and others working in the field of diving or hyperbaric medicine. The start of the organization began in 1967, and previously known as Undersea Medical Society. In 1986, the name was changed to Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (10531 Metropolitan Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895 – telephone number: 301- 942 – 2980), which reflects the growth and interest in hyperbaric oxygen physiology and therapy. The organization sponsors educational meetings throughout the year. The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society has approved hyberaric oxygen treatment for various health problems. The length and number of treatments, depends on the severity of the condition.
Many medical situations hyperbaric treatment is essential and saves lives. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment helps patients with carbon monoxide poisoning. During the treatment, the hyperbaric oxygen clears the carbon monoxide, from the body or red blood cells, and preventing the toxicity from damaging the central nervous system, and blood vessels. Patients having Gas Gangrene, have a severe, and rare bacteria (1,000 – 3,000 cases occur in the United States annually), which releases toxins into the blood stream, and kills the tissues of the body, under low oxygen conditions. The infection appears as a pale-to-brownish-red, extremely painful tissue swelling, and spreads rapidly. Treatment inside a hyberbaric chamber provides high dose of oxygen, which inhibits the bacteria and toxin production. When a patient has a fracture to a bone, nerve tissue damage or wounds that causes interruption to blood circulation or blood vessels, and infection (White blood cells are unable to fight the infection or slow to provide sufficient healing), that may require amputation. If hyperbaric treatment is started, within the first few hours, amputation may not be necessary. Increased amount of oxygen will heal tissues and help white blood cells defeat the infection. Especially, diabetic patients have poor blood circulation in feet, non-healing traumatic wounds, and ulcer, should be treated with hyperbaric oxygen, which restores normal blood flow. When a patient has anemia or refuses to have a blood transfusion (medical or religious reasons), an alternative temporary treatment by hyperbaric therapy. During the process, oxygen will support the metabolic needs of their tissues, until red blood cells are restored. During radiation therapy complications occur, when blood vessels become narrowed or preventing blood and oxygen to reach vital tissues, especially head or neck areas. Hyperbaric treatment allows more oxygen to reach the effected areas, and preventing damage. Plastic surgeons operating on skin grafts, are concerned providing, sufficient oxygen to the affected area, thus preventing cellular damage. After a skin graft, capillaries normally take two or three days, before providing sufficient blood supply to the graft, assuming no complications. Hyperbaric treatment saturates the area within the skin graft, by providing oxygen and creating a favorable environment, for capillaries to grow. Severe burn patients treated by hyperbaric oxygen, will reduce swelling, limits the progression of the burn injury, and reduces lung damage, from inhalation of heat and smoke.
Hyperbaric treatment is being studied, for treating patients with migraine pain, memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Studies have shown patients, treated for leprosy, had permanent remission, and helped patients that suffered a stroke. In 2005, Roayal Marsden Hosptial and The Institute of Cancer Research in England, studied breathing pure oxygen, in a decompression chamber, could help relieve painful side effects of breast cancer treatment. Following breast radiotherapy, women had lymphoedema, which is a painful and irreversible condition, characterised by severe swollen arm. Breathing pure oxygen in a decompression chamber reduces swelling in many cases.
Hyperbaric treatment is not advisable, for patients that have seizure disorder, upper respiratory infection, high fever, emphysema, fluid accumulation in the sinuses, ears or other body cavities, and previous collapsed lung. Always, consult your physican if your taking medication, which may adversely effect your health, when getting hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Women that are pregnant should only receive hyperbaric treatment, when deemed acceptable, which will prevent long – term damage to the mother or fetus, such as treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning or other toxicites. One in 5,000 patients, undergoing hyperbaric treatment, may experiance seizure. Some patients may experience dental pain, if a filling has trapped air beneath it. Rarely in some cases, the preasuized air may rupture an eardrum.
In the United States and other parts of the world, hyperbaric centers provide relief and treatment for patients that have wounds, which don’t responded to conservative or conventional treatment. The patients are referred, by their physicians or consulting a hyperbaric physician. Hyperbaric centers provide individual treatment plans. Sometimes, before treatment begins, a photograph will be taken of the wound area, which will be compared to one taken, after treatment. For safety reasons, patients are advised not bring any lighters, matches, hearing aids, watches, and electronic devices into the chamber. Patients that smoke are advised to stop smoking, which insures the effectiveness of oxygen treatment. The cost for hyberbaric treatment session averages $100 – $900, at approximately 300 centers in the United States. Most insurance companies will approve the use of hyperbaric oxygen treatment, when medically necessary.