HBO Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an individualized treatment that is used in combination with antibiotics, wound care and possible surgery. During a therapy session, you lie inside a pressurized chamber with 100% oxygen. The pressure inside the chamber increases two to three times normal atmospheric pressure. This hyperbaric dose of oxygen offers distinct therapeutic benefits.
Oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber, greatly increases the amount of oxygen delivered by the blood to body tissues. All benefits provided by hyperbaric oxygen therapy are the result of this extra oxygen being carried in the bloodstream. Wound dressings are usually left in place during treatment because there is no benefit from oxygen coming in direct contact with wounds.
What Does The Therapy Feel Like?
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are typically painless. You will lie comfortably listening to music, watching TV or napping. You may experience a sensation of fullness in your ears during certain stages of the treatment. This is similar to what is felt while flying in an airplane or driving down a mountain as your eardrums respond to pressure changes. As part of your introduction to the treatment, you will be taught several easy methods to avoid ear discomfort.
How Many Treatments Are Needed?
Before beginning treatment, the hyperbaric medical staff will discuss your initial therapy with you. The exact number of treatments will be determined by the hyperbaric staff as your response to hyperbaric oxygen therapy becomes available. To achieve optimal results, 30 to 60 treatments may be required. Wounds with a history of radiation usually take longer to respond.
Depending upon the reason for your referral, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may provide you with one or more of the following benefits:
- Formation of blood vessels and new tissue
- Vasoconstriction-reduction in edema
- Increased oxygenation in body tissue & blood plasma
- Improvement in the body’s ability to fight infection
- Aid the body’s ability to rid itself of dead bone & tissue
Treatments are on an inpatient and outpatient admission and are routinely done once a day, Monday through Friday. The unit is closed most weekends and holidays.
What Special Preparations Do I Need?
Several preparations are necessary before starting each treatment, all of which will be discussed with you in detail by the hyperbaric staff.
- • Medications
- It is very important that you provide the hyperbaric staff with a complete list of medications that you are taking, including
non-prescription drugs. Some medications change the body’s response to oxygen.
- • Illness
- If you are experiencing the symptoms of a cold or the flu, such as fever, cough, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea or generalized body-aches, please notify a hyperbaric staff member as soon as possible. These symptoms may require a temporary delay in your treatment. When your symptoms resolve, treatments may be resumed.
- • Smoking
- Since tobacco products constrict blood vessels and limit the amount of blood and oxygen that can be delivered to tissues, you should not use tobacco products during your course of treatment.
- • Clothing/Personal Items
- You will be provided cotton garments to wear during therapy. Personal items are not permitted within the hyperbaric chamber. To reduce the potential for static electricity, the following items are not allowed:
- Cigarettes, matches and lighters
- Jewelry and all metal objects
- Hair spray/make-up
- Perfume/deodorant/shaving lotion
- Oils (hair/skin products)
Lockers are provided for your clothing and other items. Please do not bring valuable items to the hyperbaric medicine facility.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Most patients experience no after-effects from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Some patients report a “crackling” in their ears between treatments. If the crackling should continue, please report this to the staff. Some patients report briefly feeling light headed however, patients can continue with their normal daily activities.
Rarely, patients have developed temporary changes in eyesight which returns to pre-treatment status within
six to eight weeks after treatment. Like all medical treatments and procedures, some risks are associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These risks are quite rare and will be discussed with you before you sign your consent form for therapy.