Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also known as HBOT, is a certain type of wound treatment that people undergo in order to speed up, or in some cases trigger, the healing process, especially with stubborn wounds. While hyperbaric oxygen is also used to treat other conditions from carbon monoxide poisoning to burns to bone diseases, HBOT is highly effective for diabetic wounds as well.
HBOT works by feeding the blood enough oxygen to repair various tissues and restore normal bodily functions to working order. So, in order to undergo the treatment, the patient will be put into a chamber where they will breathe pure oxygen in air pressure that is about 1.5 to 3 times higher than the normal air pressure we experience.
Of course, like any other procedure or treatment, it’s not necessarily all good and flowers. There are certain risks, as well as many benefits, to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and it is important to understand them if you are considering undergoing HBOT. So, we will begin with the bad news and finish with the good:
There are many different risks associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but they all have different likelihoods of occurring, so we will break the risks down by the most common ones to rarest complications.
The most common complications patients experience from HBOT is trauma to the middle ear. The middle ear is the section of your ear that includes the ear drum and three tiny bones called ossicles. Trauma to the middle can be painful, but it can also be painless. Regardless of the pain, trauma to the middle ear can lead to infections and it is important to take care of the trauma.
Other possible complications from HBOT include eye damage and sinus problems. The risks of suffering from these complications are heightened if the patient has recently experienced cold or fever symptoms before undergoing HBOT.
In rare and the most severe cases, a patient might experience oxygen poisoning. Oxygen poisoning is very serious as it can lead to lung failure, fluid in the lungs, seizures, and a few other serious problems for the body. But, oxygen poisoning is extremely rare and only occurs in the most severe cases.
So, if you have had any recent ear surgeries or trauma, any serious colds, fevers, or sicknesses, or certain types of lung diseases or injuries, then HBOT is most likely not the best option for you.
Now, of course hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not all bad news – there are also plenty of benefits associated with HBOT.
HBOT encourages the formation of new collagen, which is the connective tissue in your body, and new skin cells. HBOT encourages the body to form new blood vessels. Also, HBOT can even stimulate cells to produce vascular endothelial growth factor, which attracts and stimulates certain substances necessary for healing, like endothelial cells.
HBOT strengthens the body’s immune system and helps block the damage and action of harmful bacteria. HBOT disables the toxins of certain bacteria that can be harmful to the body. HBOT also increases oxygen concentration in the body’s tissues, which helps the body resist infections. Additionally, HBOT improves the white blood cell’s ability to find and eliminate harmful molecules in the body.
HBOT helps prevent reperfusion injury. Reperfusion injury is the sever tissue damage that occurs when the oxygen-deprived blood reaches the tissue. Molecules in the oxygen-deprived blood can cause irreparable damage to the tissue. HBOT allows healing to continue by seeking out the problematic molecules in the blood.
HBOT helps wound healing by bringing oxygen-rich plasma to tissue starved by oxygen. Wound injuries can damage the body’s blood vessels, which in turn releases fluids into the surrounding tissue causing swelling. This swelling causes oxygen deprivation, which kills the tissues cells. So, the increases in oxygen breaks the cycle of swelling, oxygen deprivation, and tissue death.
At the end of the day, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be a very useful treatment plan went it comes to bariatric wound care. However, HBOT might not be for everyone, so it’s absolutely necessary to discuss whether HBOT is right for you with your health care provider.