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Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Therapy: 10 FAQs

Updated: Feb 6

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a natural, holistic alternative for speeding up healing, reducing pain, boosting immunity, and producing overall health. It is widely accepted and used by the medical community for many conditions.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy requires the use of a specially designed chamber. While in the chamber you will breath 100% oxygen (room air is about 21% oxygen). You will then be pressurized between 1.3 - 3.0 times the weight of the atmosphere. This will feel what it feels like at the bottom of a 12 foot swimming pool.


How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy work?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy:

  • Causes lungs, blood and plasma to absorb more oxygen

  • Triggers a release of stem cells (800%)

  • Releases a substance called vascular endothelial growth factor

  • Activates Fibroblasts

  • Enhances phagocytosis

  • Aids in apoptosis

  • Enhances endrigenous antioxidant system


What does all that mean? In short, it allows the body to jump into over drive when it comes to healing. The items listed above allow the body to repair and create new blood vessels, nerves, brain cells, bones, muscles, skin, connective tissues, greatly reduces inflammation, and rapidly increases the bodies immune and protection systems. To understand how all of this is possible, first you need to understand what happens in the body when an injury or illness occurs.


When an injury occurs that damages blood vessels, the vessels begin to leak fluid into the surrounding tissues, which causes swelling. As tissues swell they become deprived of oxygen and begin to die. Damaged blood vessels also contribute to a disruption in oxygen and nutrient delivery, leaving the injury without a way to heal itself. Oxygen disruption to an injury can also lead to the release of harmful oxygen radicals which further damage tissue and cannot be reversed.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy floods the entire body with oxygen and the pressurized chamber helps deliver this oxygen to the farthest reaches of your body quickly. The increase in oxygen boosts the ability of every cell in your body to perform at an extremely high capacity. This means that not only are tissues able heal, but your immune system will be able to fight infection and other invaders, such as the harmful oxygen radicals released by the injury.


Stems cells are release, as is a substance called vascular endothelial growth factor. Stem cells are specialized cells that can become any other cell in your body, depending on the need. This means that these newly released stem cells can become brain cells, nerves, muscle cells, blood vessels, or what ever else is needed. The endothelial growth factor substance that is released also promotes the creation of new blood vessels, skin cells and underlying connective tissues.


White blood cells (WBC) in our immune system eat invaders in a process called phagocytosis. This process is dependent upon oxygen though. Our white blood cells actually convert oxygen into a compound called oxy-radicals, which are what eats invading bacteria, viruses, or cancer causing free-radicals.


Another part of our immune system is programmed into each cell. When a cell becomes unable to perform it's job adequately, or if the cell becomes damaged, the cell will kill itself to keep from multiplying the defect. The process of self destructing is called apoptosis. Unfortunately, when our system becomes weak our cells begin to make mistakes. Cells that do not self destruct when they should can become wide spread inflammation or can continue to replicate its own defect and become cancer.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy addresses both of these immune system processes by helping white blood cells increase their ability and efficiency in eating invaders (phagocytosis) and by aiding in the apoptosis process as well. In addition, HBOT increases key antioxidants in our bodies that help to protect our DNA from mutations caused by outside toxins and free radicals.


Inflammation effects 1 in 5 Americans. It is the underlying cause of many (if not most) diseases, as well as a main culprit of our chronic pain. As all of the above changes take place inflammation is being decreased in the body. This leads to relief from chronic pain as well as recovery from many underlying illnesses and diseases.


What are Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Benefits?

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are widely used among hospitals and specialists for a large array or conditions. Conditions that are approved by the FDA and/or covered by Medicare and Medicaid, and most often used by physicians include (but are not limited to):

  • Air/gas embolism

  • Decompression sickness (the bends)

  • Burns

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Gangrene

  • Hearing loss

  • Open wounds

  • Vision loss

  • Radiation injuries

  • Severe anemia

  • Skin grafts

  • Severe skin or bone infections

  • Crush injury

  • Traumatic peripheral ischemia

  • Progressive necrotizing infections

  • Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency

  • Chronic refractory osteomyelitis

  • Osteoradionecrosis

  • Soft tissue radionecrosis

  • Cyanide poisoning

  • Actinomycosis,

  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities


Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy (mHBOT) is commonly used by med spas, spas, physical therapy clinics, wellness centers, and gyms for treatment and relief of many other ailments. Additional benefits include (but not limited to):


  • Long COVID (long haulers)

  • COVID

  • Anti-aging

  • Stokes

  • Artherosclerosis

  • Dementia

  • Fatigue

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Alzheimers

  • Sports Injuries

  • Improved Sports Performance

  • Arthritis

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Brain Fog

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Pre/Post Surgery

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Inflammation reduction

  • Erectile Dysfunction

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • TMJ

  • Hair Loss

  • Migraine Headaches

  • Crohn's Disease

  • Colitis

  • Cancer

  • Lyme Disease

  • Increased Immunity

  • Pain Relief


How long does it take for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to work?

There are four key components to consider when under going hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

  1. Oxygen Concentration

  2. Pressure

  3. Time

  4. Frequency


Oxygen Concentration

Room air is comprised of about 21% oxygen. Due to the pressure in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, you would still absorb more oxygen and benefit from it if you were breathing only room air (21%). However, most HBOT units will provide a higher concentration of oxygen, usually between 95%-100%.


Pressure

Pressure is a critically important component. It is the pressure that gives the oxygen the ability to move more abundantly into our plasma (instead of just into our red blood cells like normal breathing does). Our plasma usually has a very low oxygen level (1.5%). Much smaller and fluid like, plasma can travel to places red blood cells cannot. The pressure in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber allows higher concentrations of oxygen to travel into our plasma and then into the far reaches of our bodies where the healing abilities of oxygen may not often get.


HBOT pressure is dosed using ATA (atmosphere absolute). This is essentially the weight of the atmosphere. Those living at sea level live at exactly 1 ATA, meaning they feel the weight of exactly one atmosphere. Measuring ATA is similar to the air pressure in tires, which are measured in PSIs (pounds per square inch). One ATA is the same as 14.7 psi.


Hyperbaric oxygen chamber pressures vary by chamber type, ranging between 1.3 - 2.5 ATA.


Due to its exceptional safety record, and based on many studies that show equivalent results at lower (milder) pressure, Therapy Pros has chosen an HBOT unit that pressurizes at 1.3 ATA.


Time

Most HBOT sessions (or "dives") will be between 60-90 minutes. However, it is worth noting that there are benefits for even a 15 minute session. Sessions greater than 90 minutes can be done as well, but there is a slight increased risk of too much oxygen building up in the body.


Frequency

Frequency matters when using hyperbaric oxygen therapy. While even one dive will produce benefits, more sessions that are closer together seem to offer greater results.


For extreme cases there is a "40 Hour Hyperbaric Protocol" that shows phenomenal result. This protocol directs the patient to take 40 HBOT dives with 1-2 dives per day. Dives should have at least a 4 hour break between them. It is recommended that dives are done 5 days in a row with two to rest before repeating.


Interestingly, when following the 40 hour protocol, patients pressure and time in HBOT varied, with some pressurized at 1.3 ATA for 60 minutes and others pressurized at 2.4 ATA for 90 minutes, yet both showed similar and powerful results not due to their pressure or time, but simply based on high frequency.


A the very forefront of this field there is a new approach in hyperbaric oxygen therapy called Targeted Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (t-HBOT). t-HBOT utilizes two extremely powerful healing tools and combines them. Utilizing HBOT dives in conjunction with low level light therapy (LLLT) the frequency of dives can be greatly reduced while still producing the same exceptional results.


At Therapy Pros, we often utilize both HBOT and LLLT, and have seen incredible results. We often have patients start with 2-3 dives a week followed by red light therapy. After a few weeks, if the problem has reduced/improved, we will scale back the dives to 1-2 per week. Once the issue is resolved maintenance is not usually required. However, many times patients prefer to come in from time to time for a single dive to continue receiving the benefits, to be pro-active and improve their overall health.


How long does the effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy last?

Every person is different. Some individuals notice a difference immediately and others, it take some time. The benefits may permanently heal a specific problem, they may also last weeks, months or even years.


What are Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy side effects?

There are very few side effects, and side effects are rare when using hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Individuals with sensitive ears may have some discomfort (similar to a plane gaining altitude or landing). This can be avoided by pressurizing the HBOT chamber slower and utilizing specialized ear plug, such as ear planes.


The first few HBOT treatments may cause you to feel more tired or urinate more. This is because HBOT increases metabolism and detoxifies the body. Usually there is an increase in energy after the first couple treatments though.


Due to increasing metabolism, diabetics will need to closely monitor their blood sugar if receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Patient who take medication may also notice it "wearing off" quicker. If possible, put a cushion of time between HBOT treatments and taking medication.


While not likely for mild pressure (1.3 ATA) there is slight chance of temporary myopia or hyperopia (changing or the eyeball shape due to the pressure). While rare, this is more likely to occur with pressure of 2.0 ATA or higher.


Patients may feel claustrophobic in monochambers. These chambers are spacious enough to sit up in, may have a window, and soft sided chambers can be heard through. Many patients choose to nap while in HBOT. However, if napping isn't an option for you, it is helpful to have a book or something to occupy your mind during your session. Music can also be played outside of the chamber to help alleviate anxiety.


Patients who have sinus conditions or who are ill may find increased discomfort in their sinuses and/or ears. In such instances it may be better to wait for the illness to subside.


Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Safe?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has an outstanding safety record. It is extremely rare to have a serious adverse affect, especially at lower dosages.

  • 60 minutes 1.3 ATA - Extremely safe

  • 60 minutes 2.0 ATA - Minimal concerns; Very low risk

  • 60 minutes 2.5 ATA - Higher risk; Serious reactions are still rare

The most common complaint in regards to pressure only occurs in about 10% of people, and that is ear discomfort.


The greatest risk regarding HBOT is in the event of a fire. Chambers that are filled with concentrated oxygen (which is highly flammable) are at the greatest risk. For this reason clinics are directed to not allow electronics in the hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Wearing cotton clothing and/or materials low in static electricity are suggested as well. Chambers who feed concentrated oxygen through a mask (like we have at Therapy Pros) are at much less risk.


Who Should NOT use Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

While hyperbaric oxygen therapy can heal respiratory and lung issues, some lung problems increase the risk of a collapsed lung while under pressure.


Individuals that should NOT use hyperbaric oxygen therapy include persons with:

  • Current collapsed lung

  • COPD

  • Cystic Fibrosis

  • Emphysema

  • Pacemaker/implant medical device

  • Injured inner ear (ex. perforation, ruptured ear drum)

  • People who have had recent ear surgery

  • Individuals with congestion/sinus pressure should wait until symptoms resolve

What does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Cost?

The cost of hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions depends on multiple factors, such as geographic location, type of setting (facility vs outpatient), type of chamber (monoplace chamber vs multiplace chamber), etc.


Some specific illnesses and/or injuries may be covered by your insurance, however, they may require you to receive treatment at a facility (hospital).


Many patients have what are called off-lable conditions. Meaning, HBOT is useful in treating the conditions and it is legal to seek HBOT for these conditions, but it has not been approved by the FDA and so insurance will not pay for it. In such cases patients will need to pay out-of-pocket or use their HSA cards.


Nationwide average in the USA per. HBOT session is between $250-$600.


At Therapy Pros we understand that multiple sessions at such a steep price is out of reach for most people. We also understand the phenomenal healing benefits of HBOT and feel it should be in reach for everyone. We strive to provide cutting edge treatment that will actually heal people and reduce suffering. This is why we offer 60 minute HBOT sessions for $75 and offer a 10% discount when purchasing 5 sessions (that comes to $67 per. session).


Guidelines for Using a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber?

For diabetics and those who take medication, you will want to put time between your session and when you take your medication. Diabetics will need to monitor their blood sugar closely. HBOT increases metabolic rates and cause our bodies to process faster. This includes calories, glucose, medications, etc.


Wear comfortable cotton clothing. This in not only more comfortable, but reduces the risk of static electricity causing a spark near the oxygen.


Plan on taking a nap or bring something to occupy yourself, like a book. Due to the concentrated oxygen, no electronics are allowed in the chamber.


Drink lots of fluids. Among other things, HBOT detoxifies you, which means you will need to urinate more.




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