Although hyperbaric medicine has been around for many years, it has gained a lot of publicity over the last few years. This is due to its simple yet effective nature in treating a variety of acute conditions.
Read on below to find out everything you need to know about this revolutionary treatment method.
What Is Hyperbaric Medicine?
The term hyperbaric medicine refers to a revolutionary treatment in which a patient is exposed to one hundred percent pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. This treatment is FDA approved for use in treating a variety of conditions. The treatment is also commonly referred to as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
The pressurized oxygen dissolves into the cells and fluids in the body including lymph fluid, blood plasma, and cerebrospinal fluid. This helps distribute the oxygen to all parts of the body.
Depending on the condition being treated, patients may need up to 40 sessions, spread over a few weeks. Each session in the hyperbaric machine usually lasts up to two hours.
Conditions Treated Using Hyperbaric Medicine
Hyperbaric medicine is approved to treat over ten conditions by the FDA. Some of the conditions treated using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy include carbon monoxide poisoning, anemia, decompression sickness, radiation necrosis, intracranial abscess, thermal burns, and gas or air embolisms.
Additionally, the treatment can be used to enhance the rate of healing or recovery from various conditions including diabetic nephropathy, foot, and retinopathy.
In addition to the above FDA approved HBOT applications, it is worth noting that the treatment method is also commonly used to treat a number of conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, healing of sport related injuries, cerebral palsy, diabetes and asthma among others. However, the evidence is still being gathered to support HBOT’s effectiveness in treating these conditions.
Types Of Hyperbaric Machines
There are different types of hyperbaric medicine machines designed to cater to the needs of the intended application. Traditionally, hyperbaric machines came with a rigid structure; today, however, you can find machines designed with a flexible construction.
It is also worth noting that multiple machines are designed for use by a number of patients at the same time, while monoplane machines accommodate a single patient at a time.
In addition to their use in hospitals, doctors may also prescribe the use of the machines at home, in what is referred to as mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (mHBOT).
Are There Any Side Effects?
Just like any other type of medicine, hyperbaric oxygen therapy comes with some side effects. However, these tend to be quite mild. Patients commonly report experiencing tightness in the ears and nasal cavity. This is caused by the pressure changes. The high concentration of oxygen is known to aggravate cataracts in patients who already suffer from the condition.
Perhaps the most serious side effect associated with this treatment is oxygen toxicity. This comes about as a result of extended exposure to a high concentration of oxygen. It can be prevented by going for treatment in a medical facility.