What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - Uses, Risks, Instructions to Follow, and Procedure

Published on Jul 22, 2022 and last reviewed on Aug 17, 2023   -  4 min read


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat medical conditions. Read the article below to learn about the uses and risks of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - Uses, Risks, Instructions to Follow, and Procedure


The normal human being requires oxygen for survival. The person with breathing dysfunction lacks oxygen. They require supplemental oxygen for breathing. This is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It improves the quality of life. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides one hundred percent oxygen and is considered a comprehensive treatment method. It is used along with other treatments such as surgery or medications depending upon the individual needs.

What Are the Medical Conditions Associated With the Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

The patient requires oxygen supply in the following medical conditions:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder - It causes the destruction of air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This interferes with the expiration. The patient is unable to breathe due to inflammation of the air passages (bronchi). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to deliver oxygen to patients with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

  • Cardiac Failure - The rigid heart muscle blocks the blood flow. This eventually leads to an inadequate blood supply. The inability of the heart to pump causes oxygen demand in the body. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy delivers the required oxygen to the body.

  • Pneumonia - The bacterial infection spreads to the lungs, airways (bronchi), and air sacs (alveoli). It results in inflammation and the collection of pus in the alveoli. The patient experiences discomfort while breathing. They are assisted with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

  • Asthma - The inflammatory air passages, narrowing of bronchi, and rigid breathing muscles cause difficulty in breathing. Due to these conditions, the asthma patient has breathing difficulty with trouble falling asleep. Severe symptoms lead to asthmatic attacks. In such cases, supplemental oxygen is used to aid respiration.

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia - Bronchopulmonary dysplasia occurs due to incomplete lung development in newborns. So the working capacity of the lungs is reduced in newborns. So the artificial oxygen supply is provided for breathing.

  • Cystic Fibrosis - It occurs due to genetic mutation. It affects the lungs and causes respiratory failure. The patient has a stuffy nose with phlegm inside the lungs. There is a persistent cough, and the patient gasps for oxygen. So hyperbaric oxygen therapy is given for such patients.

  • Sleep Apnea - It results in narrowing of the upper respiratory tract and restricts airflow. It interrupts sleep. The tongue falls back, resulting in choking. To prevent this condition, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used.

  • Lung Diseases - The lung diseases like restrictive lung disease, lung cancer, and respiratory disorders affect breathing capacity. It reduces oxygen supply to the other parts like the heart and bloodstream. Supplemental oxygen is distributed to the organs with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

  • Blood-Related Disorders - The air bubbles in the arteries (blood vessels) result in obstruction. This condition is known as arterial gas embolism. It reduces the blood flow and oxygen level. Anemic patients have oxygen demand due to fewer red blood cells. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is advised for such patients.

  • Skin-Related Infections - The patient with severe burns or gangrene or non healing wounds like ulcers in the foot due to diabetes has less oxygen supply to the tissues. These conditions increase the risk of tissue death. To conserve the tissue, oxygen is supplied with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

What Are Instructions to Follow During Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

  • The medical professional will prescribe the flow rate and frequency of using the hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

  • Some patients require oxygen only at certain moments, like exercising or sleeping. Few require oxygen therapy continuously. In such situations, a portable oxygen delivery method can be used. It provides oxygen flow per minute according to the requirement.

  • Avoid using drugs, smoking, and alcohol. It interferes with the respiratory mechanism and reduces breathing.

  • Inform the physician about the medications used for other systemic diseases.

What Is the Procedure of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

There are two types of chambers to provide oxygen for the patients. They are as follows;

  • Monoplace Unit - The patient lies down on the table. The oxygen chamber is designed for one person.

  • General Ward - It is a room that accommodates many patients. Each patient receives oxygen through a facemask.

The air pressure inside the room is twice the normal air pressure. The healthcare provider monitors the chamber throughout the therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in hospitals lasts for about one to two hours. One hundred percent pure oxygen is delivered to the patient, so they feel a fullness in the stomach for a few minutes after the therapy. The treatment is continued daily, or once a week depending on the individual.

What Are the Risks of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

The complications are very rare in hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It is a safe procedure. The risk factors of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are as follows;

  • Ear Injuries - The change in the air pressure results in fluid leakage and rupture of the eardrum. This condition leads to middle ear injuries.

  • Eye Problems - There is a transient change in vision. The patient has near sight (myopia). However, this condition is temporary and recovers itself.

  • Barotrauma - The sudden changes in the air pressure around the lungs results in lung collapse or respiratory failure. This condition is called barotrauma.

  • Nervous Disorders - Excess oxygen delivered during hyperbaric oxygen therapy leads to oxygen toxicity. It affects the central nervous system and induces seizures.

  • Diabetes - Hyperbaric oxygen therapy affects diabetic patients who are under insulin medication. It lowers the blood sugar level.

  • Flame Discharge - If the oxygen is delivered inside a treatment chamber or portable device, any fumes nearby can result in fire. This is very rare in hospitals because medical professionals follow the protocols before administering hyperbaric oxygen therapy. But care must be taken when the portable devices are used at home.


People using hyperbaric oxygen therapy usually have a normal life. It increases their stamina and boosts their energy level. Life expectancy can be increased with the help of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It gives hope to patients with chronic lung disorders. Portable devices are easier to use, and people can carry on normal activities without any hindrance.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a type of treatment used to speed up the healing of carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, wounds that are not healed, and infections in which tissues are deprived of oxygen.


Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Healthy?

Hyperbaric oxygen helps block harmful bacteria's action and strengthens the immune system. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can also disable the toxins of certain bacteria and increase the oxygen concentration in the tissues, thereby resisting infections.


What Is the Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a type of treatment used to speed up the healing of carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, wounds that are not healed, and infections in which tissues are deprived of oxygen.


What Are the Complications of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

The complications of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) are the following:
- Lung damage.
- Sinus damage.
- Fluid buildup in the middle ear
- Rupture of the middle ear.
- Oxygen poisoning leads to lung failure, fluid in the lungs, or seizures.
- Changes in vision.


How Long Does HBOT Take To Be Effective?

Generally, for the hyperbaric oxygen treatment to be effective, it takes at least a couple of sessions per week. Many people can see great results with a single treatment per day for five days. Each session usually varies between 90 minutes to two hours.


Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help in Anti-aging?

A new study has shown that hyperbaric oxygen treatments in adults can reverse the aging process and stop the aging of blood cells. The adult's blood cells actually grow younger with the treatment. This helps aid anti-aging properties.


Is Sleeping in a Hyperbaric Chamber Effective?

Sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber will reduce the level of inflammation in the body, and every cell in the body will become impregnated with oxygen. This process will have an excellent effect on the tissues, joints, muscles, and brain.


Who Is Contraindicated to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

The following are the contraindications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
- Patients with untreated pneumothorax.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Asthma.
- Implanted devices.
- Epidural pain pumps.
- Pregnancy.
- High fever or epilepsy.
- Previous surgery, radiation.
- Acute upper respiratory tract infection.
- Eye surgeries.
- Eustachian tube dysfunction.
- Congenital spherocytosis.
- Diabetes mellitus patients who are dependent on insulin therapy.


What Kind of Infections Can Be Treated With Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric therapy can aid in wound healing more quickly, particularly in infected wounds. In addition, it is effective in treating bone infections that have not healed with other treatments. And also includes the treatment of air and gas embolism.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
17 Aug 2023  -  4 min read




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