How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Works


Dive into the intricate workings of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, an innovative treatment method used for an array of health conditions. This therapy operates inside a special chamber, wherein patients, clad with either a mask or clear oxygen hood, are exposed to air pressure about two and a half times higher than our typical atmospheric pressure. The increased pressure, while possibly inducing a sensation of fullness in the ears similar to that during a flight, boosts the absorption of oxygen into the body’s tissues. Yawning or swallowing can help alleviate any discomfort caused by this process.


Increased Oxygen Levels

What is HBOT? Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, which helps heal your tissues. It involves sitting or lying in a small, pressurized chamber that fills with 100% pure oxygen at 1.5 to 3 times higher levels than normal air pressure.

When HBOT treats carbon monoxide poisoning, severe burns, gangrene, and nonhealing wounds, it speeds up healing. It also treats some neurological conditions and some forms of depression. However, further research is needed to confirm its effectiveness for these uses.

The treatment is usually painless and safe. It may cause a feeling of fullness in your ears (like when you fly on an airplane) from the increased air pressure, but this goes away. During treatment, you have the option to listen to music, watch TV, or take a nap.

It is important to bring a list of all your medications and any medical implant devices, such as pacemakers, that you have. Before entering the chamber, you must shower and avoid wearing perfumes, deodorants, petroleum-based skin care products, or flammable haircare products like hair spray.


Increased Blood Pressure

The increased air pressure in the chamber causes your lungs to take in more oxygen than they could under normal conditions. The extra oxygen enters the bloodstream and travels to areas of your body that need it, such as damaged tissues and areas affected by infection.

HBOT can boost the effects of certain medications, such as antibiotics. It also increases oxygen concentration in bodily fluids, such as brain and spinal fluid, which may help repair damage from strokes or amputations.

A treatment session lasts about two hours. During treatment, you lie on a table that slides into a clear plastic chamber designed for one person. Before entering the chamber, a healthcare team member checks your pulse and blood pressure and takes your oxygen levels. You will be given a mask to breathe through and may need to remove items that generate heat, such as hair or battery-powered devices.

Increased Blood Oxygen Levels

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) introduces pure oxygen into the body to encourage your body’s natural healing process. You lie in a pressurized chamber and breathe 100% oxygen at pressures higher than normal (2 atmospheres absolute [ATA]). This provides 10 to 20 times more healing oxygen directly into tissues.

The extra oxygen can help destroy harmful bacteria and stimulate the growth of new blood vessels that carry oxygen throughout your body, especially to injured areas. The oxygen can also activate stem cells, which are the precursors of many other types of cells in the body.


HBOT is safe for most people, though it can cause side effects like ear discomfort and crackling in the ears from changing air pressure in the treatment room. Occasionally, HBOT can increase your risk of developing carbon monoxide poisoning or other lung problems. Before starting therapy, any potential risks will be discussed with you. It’s important to note that these risks are rare.

Increased Blood Volume

During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, your blood volume grows because the increased pressure in the chamber makes it easier for your body to transport oxygen. This is particularly beneficial for people with low red blood cell counts, which makes it hard to deliver enough oxygen to wounds and other tissues.

In a pressurized chamber, you inhale pure oxygen that is 100% free of impurities. The pressure in the chamber is two and a half times higher than normal, which increases the amount of oxygen in your blood by two or three times. This oxygen-rich blood aids in healing your injured tissues, combating bacteria, and producing new, healthy cells in your body.

During your treatment session, you have the option to listen to music, watch TV, or take a nap. As your ears adjust to the increased air pressure, you may experience a sensation of fullness similar to flying in an airplane or traveling through mountains. To alleviate this feeling, you can try yawning or swallowing.

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