What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, is a medical treatment that delivers pure oxygen to the body under higher than normal pressurized environments. HBOT is a non-invasive treatment that enables increased oxygen levels to all areas of the body. While many people think of hyperbaric chambers and underwater divers with the bends, HBOT offers many different medical benefits and is available to treat many different conditions. Here at National Hyperbaric, Dr. Spiegel and his team work to find the ideal HBOT treatment plan for you and your medical condition.

What Are Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers?

A hyperbaric chamber allows for high-pressure, pure oxygen delivery to a patient. At National Hyperbaric, you will find two different types of chambers. A mono-place chamber is a clear, plexiglass tube that allows the patient to lie comfortably while listening to music or watching television. The chamber fills with pure oxygen at higher than normal air pressure. A multi-place chamber is a larger unit and designed for up to 12 patients. Here patients sit in large recliners and breathe in oxygen through a mask or hood. They can get up and move around, interact with others, watch television or listen to music.  Which chamber your treatment plan uses will depend on your condition. For example, in cases of wound healing, a mono-chamber offers an advantage in that the oxygen enters directly through the surface of the body as well as through breathing.

How Does Oxygen Work in the Body?

Red blood cells carrying oxygen.

Most importantly, your body needs oxygen to survive. In simple terms, as you take a breath, oxygen travels into your lungs. Next, the oxygen passes through tiny air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli. Once there, the oxygen transfers to the capillary blood vessels where the hemoglobin in the red blood cells transports the oxygen. The oxygen, carried in the hemoglobin of your blood, then travels to the heart where it passes through to deliver oxygen to cells throughout your body. The cell’s mitochondria then convert the oxygen into energy to power the specific cells. Under normal conditions, oxygen is carried by the hemoglobin, with only very small trace amounts being transported by the plasma of the blood.

How is HBOT Different Than Regular Breathing?

Oxygen makes up approximately 21 percent of the air you breathe in every day. However, most of the air you breathe in is nitrogen. How much oxygen you breathe in also depends on the atmospheric pressure where you are. For example, at sea level, atmospheric pressure is at one ATA, or 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi). As you go higher in elevation, pressure drops, making it harder for the body to bring in oxygen. Areas above sea level experience air with a reduced concentration of oxygen. Consequently, the body struggles to absorb as much oxygen from the air.

In an HBOT system, the air is 100 percent oxygen and the atmospheric pressure increases, allowing more oxygen absorption by the body with each breath. This increased amount of oxygen pushes into the hemoglobin of the blood, as well as the plasma. This allows for more oxygen distribution throughout the body and to areas that may need more energy, such as healing wounds.

What Does HBOT Do in the Body?

With this increase in oxygen, hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments offer many different benefits to the body.

  • Increases oxygen levels in the body up to 10 times the normal amount
  • Allows oxygen to cross over into the brain, increasing the production and availability of neurotransmitters
  • Increases the number of stem cells in circulation throughout the body
  • Eliminates areas of hypoxia by stimulating capillary growth
  • Stimulates connective tissue cells which promote wound healing and new skin growth
  • Stimulates the immune system response
  • Offers anti-inflammatory effects on the body
  • Aids in treating trauma and sports injuries
  • Triggers the healing response to radiation-induced injuries in the bones, soft tissue and organs
  • Inhibits the growth of some bacteria and kills non-oxygen tolerant anaerobic organisms
  • Improves the performance of some antibiotics and medications
  • Removes that gas bubbles that cause “the bends” from the bloodstream
  • Increases the removal of foreign bodies from the bloodstream including bacteria, fungi, dead cells, and waste by-products
A multiple person oxygen chamber

Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help Me?

A Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber in Our Facility.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treats a variety of different medical conditions. The Federal Drug Administration, or FDA, determined and approved 14 different conditions for HBOT treatment. Insurances cover hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments for most FDA-approved conditions. In addition to the FDA-approved conditions, HBOT has shown success with many more conditions. In this case, HBOT is off-label and typically not covered by medical insurance at this time. However, this does not mean that HBOT won’t help your condition. In fact, doctors prescribe many treatments and pharmaceutical medications off-label every day with great success. For more information on off-label use and all the conditions we treat, please visit here.

With all this in mind, if you think you might benefit from HBOT treatments or are interested in more information, contact us today at 727.787.7077 to schedule your personalized consultation with Dr. Spiegel today. You may also click HERE to fill out our online request form.