The Basics of Hyperbaric Therapy – What You Should Know

If you’ve ever accidentally touched a hot stove or iron, you know the jolt of pain you could get from burns. Fortunately, the human body has natural healing capabilities—it quickly does what it can to heal burns, cuts, scrapes, and other injuries. A mild burn will take about a week or two to heal and typically doesn’t leave scarring. If you want to speed it up, though, or if the burn is more serious, you would need some intervention.

You can make healing more efficient through hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This treatment uses a pressure chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood, reducing swelling and stopping infection. These happen because the mitochondria, which supply cells with energy, and the stem cells, which act as the body’s repair system, require oxygen.

Hyperbaric therapy in detail—how does it work?

This therapy does not require needles or incisions, which is good news for people who find invasive medical procedures intimidating. All you have to do is enter the hyperbaric chamber, which has about two and a half times more air pressure, which lets your body carry more oxygen to your tissues and organs.

Your body typically gets oxygen through the blood system, but during this type of therapy, the oxygen goes beyond the arteries’ reach. Hyperbaric delivery concentrates oxygen in areas that need healing and attracts stem cells to the affected areas. Aside from healing wounds and burns, this treatment benefits various conditions like crush injuries, carbon monoxide poisoning, bone infections, frostbite, and severe anemia.

How is it like to undergo this kind of therapy?

The inside of a hyperbaric chamber feels like being on a bed inside a glass chamber. It might feel strange, especially at first, when you’re getting used to seeing in all directions but being in a closed environment. 

However, you’ll quickly adapt to it. While in a chamber, you can even watch TV through the glass or speak with the technician. Some people feel pressure in their ears during the treatment, a lot like how it is during a flight. If this happens, it helps to clear your ears through yawning, swallowing, or opening and closing your mouth. 

Patients usually undergo a program that lasts for about two months. Their sessions take two hours per day and five days a week. Although it sounds like a significant time commitment, the results are worth it, especially for moderate to severe injuries that are not likely to heal without intervention.

Does this therapy have any side effects?

A hyperbaric chamber treats ailments using pressurized air. If the air in the body gets trapped and has no way to go out, it could cause side effects. Trapped air in the sinuses, ears, or lungs could cause various conditions like sinus pressure and acceleration of cataract growth. Pneumothorax and seizures are rare and treatable side effects as well.

Claustrophobic people might also feel some anxiety while undergoing treatment. Managing symptoms like these are essential in preparing a patient for this therapy. 

How do you deal with the side effects?

There are various ways of easing side effects from this treatment. For one, the chamber operator could change the pressure and oxygen levels. Doing this lessens the symptoms. If you have ear trauma, inform your specialist beforehand—an ear, nose, and throat physician can put tubes in your ears to prevent adverse effects. Meanwhile, people whose anxiety levels surge can take medication before entering the chamber.

Conclusion

The body heals naturally from injuries like wounds and burns. However, an encompassing treatment like hyperbaric therapy speeds up that process. The specialized chamber concentrates oxygen on areas that need it the most, without the need for invasive procedures. If you’re keen on bouncing back quickly after an injury, ask your doctor if this therapy is suitable for you.

For hyperbaric oxygen therapy, look no further than Valley Health and Hyperbarics. Our medical advisor, Dr. Jo Feingold, specializes in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for medical and general wellness purposes. We are in Suffern, NY; request an appointment today to see if this therapy is for you!