Wound healing is still one of the most studied areas in health today. With millions of people suffering from chronic wounds around the world, the quest for different types of techniques and therapies that help promote wound healing still continue to this day.
One of the most popular wound care methods is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. But is it really effective and what are its uses?
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Following the idea that a wound needs oxygen to heal properly and completely, hyperbaric oxygen therapy was introduced in the medical world where the patient is exposed to 100% oxygen that’s more than normal levels. This exposure is done to win a hyperbaric oxygen chamber where it is believed to help speed up wound healing.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is recommended as part of wound care for different types of wounds including burns, skin grafts and flaps, radiation and crush injuries, infected wounds and even diabetes-related wounds.
By exposing the body to higher levels of oxygen, the body is given the chance to release growth factors and stem cells that play a huge role in wound healing while stimulating the body’s defenses to fight against bacteria that causes infection and delayed wound healing.
Aside from wounds, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also used as part of the treatment for severe anemia, vision loss, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, arterial gas embolism, and brain abscess. This technique has also been used to help scuba divers decompress after a long dive.
What are the Preparations for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a sensitive procedure, some steps need to be followed to prepare the patient to go into the chamber. For one, the patient will be asked to remove his clothing and leave everything else outside the chamber to avoid any sparks. Claustrophobic patients are also asked to breathe normally and relax by listening to music or watching TV while the therapy is ongoing.
They can also talk to the therapist during the treatment to communicate their feelings and so they don’t feel anxious while inside the chamber. A regular session could last from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. After the procedure, the therapist will slowly de-pressurize the chamber and let the patient rest, as he may feel lightheaded or tired for a short amount of time. This is because the body is adjusting back to the normal levels of oxygen in the body after being exposed to 100% oxygen during the treatment.
What are the Risks?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally safe and while some patients may experience side effects, they’re usually rare and not as serious. But some of the risks in this procedure include nearsightedness, decompression sickness, low blood sugar, and even seizures. This is why a patient is carefully evaluated by professionals before being recommended to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It’s also very important to share a patient’s complete medical history for the healthcare provider to determine if this type of therapy is safe or not.
We specialize in diagnosis and treatment for any and all wound care issues for patients in San Diego County, Orange County, and Riverside County. For more information or to set an appointment, please contact us.