How Can A Mild Hyperbaric Chamber Supplement Your Wellness Routine?

Hyperbaric chambers use oxygen and controlled air pressure to treat injury, fatigue, and soreness. They aren't just meant for professional athletes.

Hyperbaric chambers changed the way American doctors treated patients back in the 1890s. The chambers were so effective, the US Navy put them to regular use in the 1930s. 

Since then, doctors continued to study the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Over the years, American scientists approved HBOT to treat over a dozen conditions.

No, you do not need to become a diver to use a hyperbaric chamber. Divers primarily use HBOT if something goes wrong during their ascent. 

What medical conditions react well to hyperbaric oxygen therapy? What does it feel like inside a hyperbaric chamber?

This guide will answer all your questions about hyperbaric chambers.

What is a Hyperbaric Chamber?

A hyperbaric chamber is a sealed room capable of being pressurized to below sea level. They are generally made from metal or something sturdy enough to maintain pressure. Cheap models are available but pose a fire risk if they burst.

During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a patient receives pure oxygen. 

Oxygen delivery systems include:

  • Ambient oxygen - No need for tubes, just breathe the air around you
  • Nasal tube - A soft plastic tube with a forked part that rests inside your nostrils
  • Oxygen mask - A soft plastic mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • Oxygen hood - A large clear plastic hood that fits over the entire head

The oxygen delivery method depends on what you're treating and the type of chamber.

What Does the Hyperbaric Chamber Do?

The hyperbaric chamber provides a controlled environment to combine two treatments.

The combination of high air pressure and pure oxygen boosts the oxygen levels in your bloodstream. The extra oxygen speeds up the healing process.

At sea level, the oxygen concentration is 3 mL/L. In a typical hyperbaric chamber, that becomes 60mL/L of oxygen. That is also how much your body needs to operate all the oxygen using tissues.

How Much Pressure Is Inside a Hyperbaric Chamber?

That depends on the type of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and what condition you're treating.

The typical hyperbaric chamber reaches a pressure equal to 3 times the normal air pressure. A mild hyperbaric chamber has about half the pressure. 

What Does It Feel Like Inside a Hyperbaric Chamber?

The first step of your appointment is to get comfortable. Put on the cotton gown they provide. Make sure you follow all the instructions before treatment begins.

There are two main types of hyperbaric chambers. What kind you use depends entirely on what the facility has available.

A single-person chamber is usually a narrow tube. You lay down inside the tube and breathe the oxygen-rich air. There are plenty of windows so you don't feel trapped.

Multiple-person chambers come with seats. Some are equipped with televisions to help pass the time. These chambers use oxygen hoods that cover the whole head.

During the session, someone will be with you to talk if you want. If talking won't help you relax, they will offer another form of entertainment. Your only job during treatment is to relax and breathe.

How long is a typical hyperbaric oxygen treatment session?

Assume that you will be busy for at least 2 hours. 90 minutes of the session will be inside the hyperbaric chamber. The extra time covers changing clothes and adjusting the chamber's pressure.

During treatment, many patients feel like they're on an airplane. The pressure in the chamber affects the pressure in your ears. It may also affect your sinuses, so don't go to treatment with a stuffy nose,

Anxiety from claustrophobia is the cause of many side-effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Anxiety causes blurred vision and numb fingertips. As long as you remember to relax, this shouldn't be a problem.

Some patients feel giddy due to the pure oxygen evironment. Rarely, patients with an undiscovered condition will suffer serious side-effects. Before you use a hyperbaric chamber, consult a doctor.

Hyperbaric Chamber Benefits

Early on, hyperbaric chambers were used to treat Navy divers with the bends.

Divers in the hyperbaric chamber are given pure oxygen to boost their systems. The chamber is pressurized to the same depth as their dive. Slowly the pressure is released, allowing nitrogen bubbles in the diver's bodies to reduce.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is approved to treat:

  • Gas or air embolism
  • Decompression illness
  • Failing skin grafts
  • Burns from a fire
  • Certain sinus and brain infections
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Low blood flow
  • Gas Gangrene
  • Crush injury
  • Necrotizing infection
  • Radiation injury
  • Bone marrow infection
  • Anemia from blood loss

Early hyperbaric chambers treated Americans suffering from breathing troubles to syphilis. Doctors could not deny that the oxygen boost from treatment helped their patients.

Even though HBOT is currently approved for a dozen or so treatments, doctors recommend it for other conditions, too.

Pressure from a hyperbaric chamber can help with rapid hearing loss. The oxygen-rich chamber promotes oxygenation in the inner ear and restores hearing. Patients who didn't react well to drug treatments were treated with HBOT.

Sometimes patients encounter infections that don't clear up with typical treatments. Diabetics with foot ulcers often have low blood oxygen, making healing difficult. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment boosts their system and prevents amputations.

Patients with hard to treat necrotic wounds on the face and neck benefit from HBOT.

Certain anaerobic bacteria infections may be killed by an oxygen-rich environment. One 2010 study in Norway used HBOT during treatment for anaerobic infections. Everyone improved whether they had additional surgery or not.

Treat Your Body Right and Try a Hyperbaric Chamber to Ease Your Pain

Have you tried every other treatment option and nothing helps? Maybe it's time to think inside the pressurized box.

A visit to a hyperbaric chamber doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming. Take the time to do a little research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Use this guide to soothe any nerves you might have about the treatment.

Still have questions about using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat your condition? This guide can give you a starting point to make a list of questions. Take these questions to your doctor.

Are you looking for more health and wellness tips? Our blog is an excellent source of information.