When is HBOT Recommended for Anemia? Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
With hyperbaric oxygen therapy, known as HBOT, a patient relaxes in a hyperbaric chamber where they receive 100 percent oxygen at increased air pressure. The anemic body suffers from low levels of oxygen due to the limited red blood cells and HBOT floods the system with oxygen. As a result, oxygen levels in the body’s tissue return to normal. In severe cases, where severe oxygen depletion occurs, HBOT can bring the body back into a safe zone, allowing treatment of the underlying causes. HBOT is FDA approved for the treatment of severe anemia and is also a front-line treatment choice for sickle cell anemia.
Signs and Symptoms of Anemia
Because your body does not have an adequate amount of red blood cells to transport oxygen, many areas of your body suffer from oxygen deprivation. Some signs and symptoms of anemia include:
- Fatigue – This is more than just tired after a long day at work. This is constant, and no amount of rest makes it better.
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
- Chest Pain
- Cold hands and feet
- A headache
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- A pounding in the ears
- Sore of smooth tongue
- Craving for ice
- Brittle nails or hair loss
What Causes Anemia?
The red blood cells in your body make up the body’s oxygen transport system. When something happens that disrupts the system, anemia occurs. Many different factors can contribute to anemia and they include:
- Iron Deficiency Anemia – The body requires iron for the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. When iron levels fall too low, red blood cell production declines. Common causes of iron deficiency include:
2. Gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, esophagitis, gastritis, diverticulitis, and stomach ulcers.
3. A vegetarian or vegan diet low in iron-rich foods.
4. Blood loss from chronic nosebleeds or bleeding disorders.
5. Intravascular hemolysis.
- Vitamin Deficiency Anemia – Iron is not the only thing the body needs to produce healthy red blood cells. Deficiencies in folate and vitamin B12 can also contribute to decreased red blood cell production.
- Chronic Disease Anemia – Certain chronic medical diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, irritable bowel diseases, and any chronic inflammatory condition can also affect red blood cell production.
- Aplastic Anemia – This is a rare and serious condition where your body stops producing enough red blood cells.
- Anemia Due to Bone Marrow Disease – Several bone marrow diseases, such as leukemia and myelofibrosis, affect the production of red blood cells.
- Hemolytic Anemia – In hemolytic anemia, red blood cells die faster than they can be made. As a result, oxygen levels decrease.
- Sickle Cell Anemia – This is an inherited form of anemia where the red blood cells become rigid, sticky, and similar in shape to a sickle, or crescent moon. This change in structure causes the cells to stick in blood vessels and slow the flow of blood and oxygen in the body.
Traditional Treatments for Anemia Other Than HBOT
The cause of your anemia will determine what treatment options are available. Treatment typically focuses on that cause in the hopes of correcting red blood cell production. Treatment options available include iron or vitamin supplementation, medications to control chronic diseases, bone marrow transplants, blood transfusions, plasmapheresis, or even removal of the spleen.
If you suffer from severe anemia, give our office a call today at 727.787.7077 to set up an initial consultation. Dr. Spiegel and his team will evaluate your medical history and determine how HBOT can help you. You may also click HERE and fill out our online information request form.