Oxygen is an element of nature that is essential for the sustenance and survival of human life. Humans, as well as most other types of living beings, need oxygen to survive and thrive. Usually, we receive oxygen by breathing. However, atmospheric air usually comprises only 21 percent oxygen while the rest is made up of other types of gases such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and many more.
The Importance of Oxygen for Humans
The human body needs oxygen to produce cellular energy within the mitochondria that exist in every single cell. Thus, oxygen is an essential component that is indispensable for a number of functions, including natural healing and energy production. The body can heal wounds and injuries with an adequate supply of oxygen as it helps in the regeneration of damaged tissue.
Oxygen also helps construct replacement cells in the human body to replace the cells that have been worn out. The immune system protecting the human body against diseases and ailments also makes heavy use of oxygen. Oxygen fuels the cells that are the body’s primary defense against viruses and also helps counter pathogens. Therefore, a sufficient amount of oxygen is essential for optimum health and wellbeing of an individual.
An Overview of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
In recent years, HBOT therapy, also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, has gained great popularity as an alternative treatment solution for various ailments. This therapy is widely used by athletes for sports-related injuries. It is also used by patients suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders or non-healing wounds. Around the world, HBOT therapy is used to treat decompression sickness in deep sea divers, gas embolism, burns, and much more.
In HBOT therapy the patient is required to enter a cylindrical, pressurized chamber known as the hyperbaric chamber. Within this chamber, the patient can breathe in pure, hundred percent oxygen under heightened atmospheric pressure levels. The duration of an HBOT session may be anything between thirty to ninety minutes, depending on the recommendations of the physician, who is supervising the treatment.
As the pressure level is two to three times higher inside the hyperbaric chamber, this results in almost 20 times more oxygen being absorbed into the blood and other bodily fluids such as the plasma and the cerebrospinal fluid. This enhanced supply of oxygen accelerates the process of recovery by allowing the oxygen to reach the damaged or injured tissues, which were receiving a limited amount of oxygen due to restricted blood flow.
What is a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber?
A hyperbaric oxygen chamber is required for a patient to receive HBOT therapy. Such a chamber is typically cylindrical in shape and comes equipped with a mattress and large sealed patient viewing windows through which the physicians and the hyperbaric technicians supervising the therapy session can look in on the patient and the patient can also see the outside world.
A hyperbaric chamber can either be monoplace or multi-place. A monoplace chamber can only be used by one person at a time. A multi-place chamber, on the other hand, can be used by two or more people at once. Typically, multi-place chambers are found at hyperbaric clinics which offer HBOT therapy services. Monoplace chambers are smaller, lighter, and more portable. Thus, most personal hyperbaric chambers are monoplace.
Benefits of Hyperbaric Therapy
HBOT therapy is an adjunctive treatment option that offers numerous benefits. It facilitates recovery by increasing the supply of oxygen to the injured areas of the body. When the tissue or the blood vessels are damaged in an area of the body, the flow of oxygen to that area is diminished as it is usually blood that carries oxygen to various parts of the body.
However, through HBOT therapy, the other bodily fluids such as the plasma and the cerebrospinal fluid also become infused with pure oxygen. Therefore, areas of the body where the flow of blood is restricted can also receive sufficient quantities of oxygen. As a result, the rate of recovery is improved due to the tissue oxygen levels being raised in the injured area.
HBOT therapy also helps and encourages the growth of new blood vessels that can carry more blood to the injured area. It reinforces the body’s natural immunity and allows the defense mechanisms of the body to kill the pathogens and prevent infection. HBOT therapy can also help reduce inflammation and swelling that may occur in or around the injured area.
Consequently, any condition caused by inflammations can be controlled by HBOT. Some of the common conditions for which HBOT therapy is recommended are severe anemia, carbon monoxide poisoning, brain abscess, burns, sudden deafness, traumatic brain injury, and diabetic foot ulcer. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders may also benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Before opting for HBOT therapy, individuals must consult a trusted and experienced medical professional such as a family doctor or hyperbaric expert. Such medical professionals will be able to determine the period for which the therapy is needed and how long each session should be. HBOT therapy can be availed at hyperbaric clinics or through a personal hyperbaric chamber installed at the patient’s house.