A clear, acrylic chamber fills with oxygen at a higher pressure than in the air around us. This chamber can be smaller for one patient at a time or larger to hold anywhere from six to twelve patients (multi-place).
HBOT is safe when used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. However, like most things in life, it’s not without risks.
Breathing pure oxygen at pressures 1.5 to 3 times greater than atmospheric pressure inside a hard-shelled hyperbaric chamber helps your lungs gather much more oxygen, delivering it to areas in the body that need it to heal. This hyperbaric oxygen chamber also helps your immune system fight bacteria and promotes the formation of collagen, which is vital for tissue repair.
HBOT reduces swelling (edema), limiting blood flow and stunting wound healing. It also increases the activity of white blood cells, boosting the body’s primary defense against infection.
Before your treatment session begins, technicians will check your vital signs and remove electronic devices, jewelry, perfumes/lotions, and other flammable materials from the chamber. During the treatment, you will lie in a smaller mono-chamber or sit in a multi-place chamber in large hospitals and trauma centers. As the air pressure inside the chamber rises, you will feel a gentle sensation in your ears, like ascending or descending on a plane.
In hyperbaric oxygen therapy, you breathe pure, pressurized oxygen in a clear plastic chamber. The pressure increases so that more oxygen enters the plasma, a liquid component of blood that transports proteins, hormones, and nutrients to cells throughout the body.
The extra oxygen allows your body to heal wounds and create new blood vessels. It also helps destroy harmful bacteria and prevents carbon monoxide bubbles from building up in your blood vessels.
HBOT has been used since the 1600s and was widely used to treat deep-sea divers with decompression sickness during World War II. In the 1950s, researchers began using it to treat other conditions.
You can get hyperbaric oxygen treatment at a wound healing center or hospital or use a portable chamber you rent for your home treatment. Medicare and many health insurance providers cover HBOT for some conditions, but you may need pre-authorization or a referral from your doctor.
The temperature of the chamber can be adjusted to different settings. It can also be adjusted based on the patient’s preference or needs. This makes the treatment more comfortable for the patient and ensures they get a safe treatment.
When you enter the chamber, it will slowly be pressurized with pure oxygen to pressures that are 1.5 times higher than normal. This may cause the sensation in your ears that you feel on an airplane, but it is easily corrected by yawning. The technician will be present for the entire treatment to monitor your vitals and ensure your safety.
This supercharged oxygen floods the blood and tissues with life-giving oxygen to heal wounds and promote new tissue growth. It can also reduce swelling by causing your body to create more blood vessels. High oxygen levels also increase the activity of white blood cells, your body’s primary defense against infections.
The chamber is dark, but patients can watch TV, nap, or relax. An attendant will fit them with a mask through which oxygen is delivered, and they can move around as needed. A special intercom allows constant communication with the therapist throughout the session.
During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the body gets an extra supply of pure, breathable air, and it helps the body absorb more nutrients and oxygen, especially in hard-to-reach places such as bone wounds and chronic infections. The extra oxygen also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, which improves blood flow and helps wounds heal faster.
While it may sound too good, hyperbaric oxygen chambers can reverse some aging factors, revitalize skin, accelerate healing, combat certain infections and diseases, alleviate long-COVID symptoms, and even reset your biological age. However, it’s important to note that this treatment should never be used as a replacement for medical care.