FAQs About Hyperbaric Medicine

Q: What is a hyperbaric chamber?

A: Hyperbaric chambers are used to administer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), a non-invasive procedure in which the patient breathes 100% oxygen. The patient is enclosed in a transparent chamber with an increase in atmospheric pressure, enabling a concentrated delivery of oxygen to damaged tissue for optimized healing.

Q: What is HBOT?

A: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is the delivery of oxygen to tissues, particularly damaged tissues, at greater than atmospheric pressure for healing. HBOT is a primary therapy in two indications: gas embolism and decompression sickness (The Bends). In all other cases, it is an adjunctive treatment given in addition to standard treatment protocols.

Q: How does it work?

A: During the treatment you will be surrounded by 100% oxygen. This oxygen-rich environment, along with the increase in air pressure, speeds and multiplies the concentration of Oxygen molecules to damaged or impaired tissues, thereby promoting healing.

Q: What does treatment feel like?

A: You should feel nothing once at treatment pressure. During compression, you may have a slight pressure in their ears, which can be alleviated by swallowing or opening your mouth and popping their ears. The internal chamber temperature may warm slightly, but will return to normal as soon as treatment pressure is obtained.

During decompression, The temperature again may change, but will return to typical upon completion of the profile.

Q: Is there anything I can do while I am inside the chamber?

A: Yes, watch television or movies also listen to music through the speaker system, while others just sleep. The most important thing is to just relax.

Q: Are there any side effects?

A: A very small percentage of patients experience a slight change in their vision; this side effect usually goes away within eight weeks of completing treatment. It is recommended that patients do not get a new prescription for their eyewear while they are receiving HBOT.

Q: Can I take anything with me into the chamber?

A: Due to the oxygen rich environment, the only thing permitted in the chamber with you is a water bottle.

Q: How long does it take?

A: Each treatment session will take approximately 1-1/2 – 2 hours. Treatments will continue for about 20-40 sessions, depending on the diagnosis.

Q: Who is eligible for HBOT?

A: The use of HBO therapy is covered as adjunctive therapy only after there are no measurable signs of healing for at least 30 days of treatment with standard wound therapy and must be used in addition to standard wound care.

Q: Are there any indications when I would not be allowed to receive treatment?

A: The only absolute contraindication to HBOT is an untreated tension pneumothorax (an accumulation of air or gas in the pleural cavity of the lungs). There are several conditions in which caution must be observed. It is important to discuss your health history in addition to your current health condition with your physician and the hyperbaric treatment center.

Q: Do I need a prescription?

A: Yes. Oxygen is considered to be a drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in the United States, must be prescribed by a physician.

Q: Can I eat and/or take medications before treatment?

A: Take all medications as directed by your doctor. Eat before you arrive. Avoid smoking immediately before and after hyperbaric treatment.

Q: Who will be with me?

A: The hyperbaric technologist will remain in the room at all times while you are inside the chamber, and a physician will be nearby as well.


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